Slice of Life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2008, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in: 1979

New Delhi, February 10

'I was born to make a nation, to serve a people,' wrote Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, deposed Prime Minister of Pakistan. 'I was not born to whither away in a death cell ...' The words, 80,000 in all, were addressed to the Pakistan Supreme Court and smuggled out of Rawalpindi jail where they were written. They were released this week in book form by the Vikas publishing house of India after an attempt to publish them in Pakistan was blocked by the military Government. The court last Tuesday upheld Bhutto's death sentence for murder.

His lengthy statement, written as a rejoinder to an official White Paper issued to expose alleged misconduct by the fallen regime, may be his last testament. The book, If I Am assassinated, reveals much about 51-year-old Bhutto's brilliance, personal philosophy and fervent, if not excessive belief in his own importance. 'I am the only person to reverse the march toward self-annihilation,' Bhutto declared. 'I was born to bring emancipation to the people and honour them with a self-respecting destiny.'

(Bhutto was hanged on April 4, 1979.)

Hongkong, February 11

The tradition of rural leaders streaming into Kowloon from all over the New Territories for the biggest and best-known yan yat party, given by the Secretary for the New Territories, has finally come to an end.

The last of the traditionally gigantic affairs was held last week in a Tsimshatsui restaurant. About 2,000 people sat at more than 100 tables for an eight-course meal, the bill for which came to $50,000. But the Secretary for the New Territories, Mr David Ackers-Jones, has decided it will be the last. Writing to the Heung Yee Kuk, he explained: 'Because of practical difficulties, I have reluctantly had to concede that it will not be possible to hold the Yan Yat Party in its current form after 1979.' He said the number of guests had swelled markedly in recent years and 'as the population of the New Territories grows, this number will increase'. For next year, Mr Ackers-Jones has proposed a series of district gatherings for prominent people and a smaller but centralised function for members of the New Territories.

Those invited to past yan yat affairs have included rural committee leaders, prominent villagers and residents, people who merit attention because of their services and position and whom the Government wanted to honour with hospitality. It was also a chance for Government officials to get to know the villagers. The party was first held in 1950 to repay villagers for their hospitality when Government officials made their rounds.

Tehran, February 12

Iran's new revolutionary Government reported that resistance by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's armed forces had almost ended, but that it was having trouble controlling its own supporters.

The religious leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny, appealed to his supporters for order and the surrender of thousands of looted weapons. Ayatollah Khomeiny's 14-year fight to convert Iran from a monarchy to an Islamic republic succeeded after two days of bloody street fighting in Tehran. Thousands of armed youths roamed the city threatening symbols of the monarchy and its foreign allies. Three generals were reported killed. The turning point came when the armed forces chief of staff ordered all troops back to barracks and declared support for the 78-year-old Shi'ite Moslem cleric.

In Hongkong, the Iranian acting Consul-General, Mr Parviz Parvizian, said: 'The members of the Consulate-General ... would like to express their pride and joy that after 25 years of tyranny, strangulation, repression and suffering, the people of Iran have made the revolution and triumphed.'