slice of life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2007, 12:00am

From the pages of the South China Morning Post this week in 1974

Most of the legal profession in Hong Kong dropped in at the Supreme Court during the week to listen to Superintendent Ernest Hunt's lawyers fight his battle against a conviction under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.

In November 1973, Hunt was jailed for one year by a Victoria District Court judge after he was found guilty of maintaining a standard of living exceeding his official income between May 15, 1971 and February 14, 1973.

Anthony Cripps QC said in submissions before the Full Court that the trial judge had misdirected himself in interpreting in Section 10 of the ordinance the word 'maintained' as having the same meaning as 'enjoys'.

He added that the trial judge had failed to distinguish 'maintaining a standard of living' from 'able to maintain' such a standard.

The trial judge should have considered that the assets and possessions of Mrs Hunt constituted a satisfactory explanation for why the husband was 'able' to maintain his standard of living, he said. Mr Cripps added that the section under which Hunt was charged called only for an explanation or an account of how he was able to maintain that standard of living, and not a full living account.

The government was poised to launch a drastic shake-up of airport security measures to safeguard Kai Tak from hijackers and terrorists.

And the big hongs were frontrunners in a plan to place all passenger screening in the hands of one company - a security 'prize' expected to be worth as much as HK$4 million a year. The lucrative air-safety prize stimulated intensive big-business lobbying among the highest echelons of government - and sent accusations flying from opponents about more airport monopoly and increased security charges.

A Jardines/Butterfield and Swire partnership was believed certain to land the security contract.

The two hongs set up an instant company called Securair and proposed to top officials that it should be in sole charge of passenger screening and safety.

Security checks for saboteurs and terrorists at Kai Tak at that time consisted of screening by metal detector and searches for smuggled weapons at the departure gates.

As the need to guard against terrorists intensified, it came to be seen as insufficient, leaving too much room for human error.

Meanwhile in London, Heathrow airport went under virtual siege in a massive security exercise designed to show terrorists that it was not a soft target.

In the biggest peacetime security operation at the airport, hundreds of troops moved in at dawn to clamp the area.

An American convert to the Sikh religion faced a court martial in New Jersey for refusing to remove his beard and turban and cut his hair.

Private Walter McNair, 19, was the fourth American Sikh to face army or navy court martial for his attire. Two army privates who converted to the religion were sentenced to three months of hard labour and given general discharges.

A navy airman technician was given an honourable discharge after having his rank reduced to airman recruit.

The Sikh religion requires the faithful to leave their hair unshorn, wear a turban and carry a sword. Defendants were allowed to say they 'symbolically' carried around a 'little picture of a sword' instead of the actual weapon.

TV commercials were as annoying 33 years ago as they are now. This from the correspondence page: 'On New Year's Eve there was an excellent film shown, namely Finian's Rainbow.

'I kept a record of the commercials shown during this film as follows: 7.53pm - six commercials; 8.05pm - six commercials.' (The list ran to 34 commercials.) Signed: DISGUSTED.