Slice of Life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in: 1979

An illegal immigrant from the mainland died after being attacked by sharks in Mirs Bay, the first of two fatal shark attacks that week. Police found Wong Kwok-wing with five other illegal immigrants in a rubber raft off Wong Chuk Kok. The immigrants told police they were trying to reach Hong Kong from Kwai Chung Commune in Po On county, with Wong 'propelling the craft by paddling with his legs' until he was attacked by sharks halfway across the bay. Police took Wong to the Tai Po Jockey Club Clinic, where he was declared dead on arrival. His death brought to 270 the number of 'freedom swimmers' drowned or killed by sharks so far that year. That tally lasted only until the following day, when the second victim, 16-year-old schoolboy Kwong Hoi-pan, disappeared while swimming with friends in Hoi Ha Wan, off Sai Kung. Hoi-pan 'was seen to struggle in the water and then go under. As he went down blood gushed to the surface'. His body was not immediately recovered and no sharks were sighted, but police believed it was the same shark that killed Wong. Jim Wilkinson, an Australian businessman and member of the Sydney Game Fishing Club, offered a HK$500 reward to anyone who caught the shark. By the end of the week, police recovered Hoi-pan's body near the scene of the attack, missing its arms and right leg.

Walter Mondale, the US Democrats' vice-president, said 'in a major speech on Sino-American relations delivered at Peking University [that] any country which tried to weaken or isolate China would be acting counter to US interests'. Mr Mondale said that 'a strong and secure and modern China is also in the American interest in the decade ahead. Despite the sometimes profound difference between our two systems, we are committed to joining with you to advance our many parallel strategic and bilateral interests'. Mr Mondale also offered the country US$2 billion (then HK$10 billion) in trade credits over a five-year period. A few days later Mr Mondale visited Xian , taking in the terracotta warriors that had been unearthed only five years previously. He also visited a market 'where peasants were selling their produce free of state controls'. In a demonstration of his support for free trade, Mr Mondale bought a watermelon, six apples and four cucumbers, to go with a bag of onions he had bought in Peking. The vice-president ended his trip to the mainland by visiting Hong Kong, where he was welcomed on his arrival at Hung Hom railway station by the governor, Sir Murray MacLehose. Mr Mondale 'commended the city for granting temporary refuge to stricken Vietnamese boatpeople, but did not make any pledge that America would accept an increased number from here'. However, before leaving Hong Kong, and after visiting a camp for Vietnamese refugees at Sham Shui Po, he announced that the US would, after all, resettle 2,000 refugees a month from the city, double its intake of the previous months.

'A feeling of shock and anger ran through Hongkong yesterday at the news of Lord Mountbatten's murder.' This outrage was 'most forcibly expressed' by the commander of the British forces in the colony, Sir Roy Redgrave. 'The brutal and cowardly murder of [...] Earl Mountbatten of Burma' was as sickening as the murder by 'Irish terrorists' on the same day of 18 members of the Queen's Own Highlanders, a regiment that would replace the 1st Battalion of the Royal Green Jackets in Hong Kong in the spring. 'Earl Mountbatten had done more in his lifetime in the cause of freedom and human rights, both in Europe and Asia, than any other man,' Sir Roy declared. 'In Hongkong he will be remembered particularly for his deep interest and support for the Hongkong Life Guard Club.' All flags were flown at half mast in Hong Kong, and a book of condolence was opened at Government House.

'Two thugs stole the service revolver of off-duty detective Lee Heung-shing as he walked along Morse Park in Tung Tau estate. PC Lee's firearm was taken after he was knocked unconscious. His was the third police firearm stolen from an officer in 24 hours. Earlier, two constables lost their weapons when they were attacked by four men in Carpenter Road, Kowloon City. A huge search by detectives from the Special Crime Squad, which extended to North Point and Wah Fu Estate in Aberdeen, failed to recover the missing firearms.'