slice of life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in 1984

Six Hong Kong seamen died when the giant oil tanker World Knight, operated by Hong Kong's World Wide Shipping Agency, was hit by an Iraqi missile in the Gulf.

Two Britons and an Indian were also missing, presumed dead, after the vessel was hit by an Exocet missile about 65km south of Kharg Island. The World Knight was carrying Iranian oil at the time of the attack.

The men were all working in the engine room when their ship, a victim of the so-called Tanker War between Iran and Iraq, was hit.

Two of the Hong Kong sailors died of their injuries in a Tehran hospital.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Polytechnic said it would make sure students on sea training programmes would not have to enter the Gulf war zone in the future. A third-year marine engineering student, Tsang Kin-keung, 22, suffered 100 per cent burns in the attack.

Four days later, 19 of the crew were returned to Hong Kong by a special Swissair flight. Five who were injured were transferred to the burns unit of the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Mr Tsang was left behind in Tehran because his condition was so severe it was feared he would not survive the flight.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher narrowly escaped assassination when Irish terrorists bombed her hotel and killed five people.

Firemen confirmed that two bodies had been pulled out of the wrecked seven-storey Grand Hotel on Brighton's Esplanade. Three more bodies were later found buried under the debris.

Nearly all 26 members of the British cabinet were staying at the hotel, a block from where the Conservative Party was holding its annual conference.

Mrs Thatcher's heir apparent at the time, Trade and Industry Secretary Norman Tebbit, was the only minister to suffer serious injuries.

He was dramatically rescued from the rubble, the image of his face contorted in pain becoming the defining image of the attack. His wife was paralysed.

The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn bomb blast.

The British media said the decision to strike at the heart of the British leadership was taken to avenge 10 hunger-striking IRA inmates of a Belfast prison who died in 1981 because Mrs Thatcher would not accept their demands to be treated as political prisoners, rather than criminals.

Thirteen ex-officio legislative councillors gave their stamp of approval to the draft agreement on Hong Kong's future.

Most declared their support for the draft agreement, albeit with some reservations, and many called on the people of Hong Kong to face the future in a positive and optimistic manner.

The dissenting voice was that of the 14th and last speaker of the day, John Swaine.

He said the deal was no cause for celebration and refused to endorse it or commend it to the people of Hong Kong.

In a scathing attack on the British government, he called the agreement 'the best of a bad deal' and accused Britain of failing to do all in its power for Hong Kong in talks on the territory's future. He said Britain had entered the negotiations with 'one arm tied behind its back'.

'It disabled itself a long time ago when it closed the door to Hong Kong.

'It did this by a series of immigration and nationality acts which turned the Hong Kong passport holder into a second-class citizen. If you don't want them, how hard will you negotiate on their behalf?'

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said his eldest son, Brigadier-General Lee Hsien Loong, had the attributes to become prime minister but 'must prove he is equal to the job'.

The prime minister denied he was trying to establish a family dynasty.

'He has the disadvantage of being my son because it will always be said he was favoured and he'll always be measured against his father,' the prime minister said.



Send to a friend

To forward this article using your default email client (e.g. Outlook), click here.

slice of life

Enter multiple addresses separated by commas(,)

Related topics

For unlimited access to: SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive