Long Queues For Certificate Of No Criminal Conviction

| Edward Chow 13 Dec 2019

On Monday, I went to the police headquarters in Wan Chai to apply for a certificate of no criminal conviction.

Don't get me wrong, I am not planning to emigrate.

I need the certificate to comply with regulatory requirements for a listed company on whose board I serve as an independent director.

My appointment had to be made a month and a half in advance on the internet, which is indicative of the increase in demand for the certificate from people who wish to emigrate following months of unrest.

One can, of course, turn up and queue on the day for hours among 100 plus people.

Incidentally, you can also apply for criminal conviction data access or a sexual conviction record check of yourself, in case the dark side of your history has to be officially confirmed and quantified!

The moral of the story is that, regardless of which side of the law we are on, the police would be in possession of full knowledge to confirm it, along with other law enforcement agencies.

That's why border checks have been very effective in stopping those on the "wanted" list from leaving, entering or "returning."

Let me share with you my only other experience in applying for such a certificate, which happened in 1984 at the old police headquarters at the same address.

I was then a senior manager at the accounting firm then known as Price Waterhouse.

Offshore oil exploration activities had just begun in the East and South China seas, and accounting firms had little knowledge of upstream oil and gas accounting in terms of treatment of research and development costs, in valuing proven reserves and in determining whether reserves were economic or otherwise vis-a-vis oil prices.

And this was to be a new frontier for giants like Exxon, Shell, BP, etc. I was nominated to get on the learning curve, and so Price Waterhouse gave me the option of going on a secondment to either Houston in the US or Calgary in Canada.

I chose Calgary in order to spend some time in the Rockies and so I needed to secure a work visa for which a certificate was required.

Here's what happened inside the then Royal Hong Kong police headquarters :

Officer: I need to complete the form for you.

Me: Would it be easier if I filled in the form myself?

Officer: No no, I can write English. What do you do?

Me: I am a chartered accountant.

Officer: Ah, so you are the chief accountant of Chartered Bank.

Me: No, sir, my profession is that of a chartered accountant. [I spelled out'chartered accountant' for him.]

Officer : OK. Sign, then sit over there and wait for your fingerprints to be taken.

Whilst waiting, a beautiful well-dressed lady came out of the restroom, one of her hands full of blackened toilet paper, complaining that the ink on fingers of both her hands wouldn't come off.

Officer: (shouting) Ms XYZ, your left finger prints are on the right hand side, and your right finger prints are on the left hand side. You have to take them again!

Luckily, technology has advanced in the last 35 years, and they use optical readers now!

Take it easy and have a good weekend. It's Friday the 13th!

Edward Chow is a current affairs


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