IMA withdraws from conference over Myanmar issue

Accounting

The Institute of Management Accountants said Wednesday it would drop out of an accounting conference in Singapore that it was scheduled to participate in later this month, one among several groups to withdraw because of the involvement of Myanmar officials after a military coup overthrew the democratically elected government earlier this year.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Federation of Accountants (AFA) and the Myanmar Institute of CPAs (MICPA) are co-hosting the AFA’s annual conference on Nov. 25, where the guest of honor will be the auditor general of Myanmar, Dr. Kan Zaw. An advocacy group called Justice For Myanmar has been calling on accounting organizations to withdraw from the conference and for the AFA to suspend MICPA’s membership. CPA Australia and the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand announced plans earlier this week to withdraw (see story). The IMA, the International Federation of Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and the Japanese Institute of CPAs were also scheduled to participate, but the IMA has now decided to cancel.

“IMA has made the difficult decision to withdraw from participating in the upcoming ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA) semi-annual conference,” said IMA spokesman Marc Gerrone. “IMA remains steadfast in supporting the advancement of the management accounting profession globally as well the careers of those who work in the field. We will continue to work with AFA in ways that align with IMA’s vision and core values.”

IFAC, however, said Wednesday it plans to continue to participate in the conference. “As professional accountants, we commit to a public interest mandate in all that we do,” IFAC said in a statement emailed to Accounting Today. “A strong and vibrant accountancy profession lends transparency, structure, and a strong ethical foundation to the financial operations of the businesses and communities it serves. As it always has, IFAC will continue to support the development of the global profession through engagement with professional accountancy organizations and professional accountants, helping to ensure they are best equipped to contribute to their societies. Our involvement at the AFA Conference is in no way an endorsement of the political affiliations or beliefs of other speakers; rather, it is a demonstration of our independent and longstanding commitment to support the development of the profession around the world for the public good.”

The advocacy group is still hoping to convince the other accounting organizations to withdraw from the conference.

“We welcome the decision of IMA to withdraw their participation in the AFA Conference,” said Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung. “As an event partner at a conference that honors the auditor general of an illegal and corrupt military junta, IMA’s involvement would have amounted to reputation laundering. By pulling out, IMA is sending a positive message to accountants in Myanmar and across the world that the Institute respects ethical principles, rule of law and human rights. We reiterate our call to other international bodies, IFAC, ACCA, ICAEW and JICPA to follow suit and also withdraw from the conference unless the Myanmar military junta is excluded.”

Doctors join a protest against the military coup in front of the Chinese Embassy on February 12, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.

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The Myanmar government has been accused of extensive human rights abuses, mass killings, and detentions of thousands of protesters after a military coup overthrew the democratically elected government in February. Among those arrested were Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and American journalist Danny Fenster. Last month, the U.S. State Department demanded an investigation after the Associated Press reported on torture sites across the country.

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