Toronto Chinatown gangs, lethal toy pistols and Lisbon’s new man in Macau: headlines from four decades ago
A journey back through time to look at significant news and events reported by the South China Morning Post from this week in history
The serene resort-like residential development Discovery Bay was only starting to take shape 40 years ago this week when the government began to explore the feasibility of building a fixed crossing to Lantau Island. In China, the government had decided to refocus its education on modern styles of teaching to keep pace with academic world trends.
February 26, 1978
● Secret society gangs had moved into Toronto’s Chinatown in recent years and were keeping people in fear of their lives through extortion, robbery and murder, according to a policeman.
● A senior Crown counsel had filed an action against the government in a bid to recover the cost of an operation his wife underwent. John Harte said he had a claim for HK$3,000 against the government to cover the cost of a gallbladder procedure his wife had undergone at a private hospital; this was after Queen Mary Hospital put his wife on a six-month waiting list for an operation.
February 27, 1978
● Chinese Prime Minister Hua Guofeng reaffirmed the foreign policy set by Chairman Mao Zedong and said that China would continue its struggle against the superpowers, especially “Soviet social-imperialism”. In his National People’s Congress report, Hua stressed that China must be “united with all countries subjected to aggression, subversion, interference, control and bullying by the superpowers and form the broadest united front against superpower hegemonies”.
February 28, 1978
● Schoolchildren in China would be spending more time studying science and less time discussing politics, according to new syllabuses drafted for a national educational overhaul. Scientific teaching would include experiments in chemistry and physics, as well as “the most modern developments” of mathematics, so that Chinese students could catch up with other countries in these fields.
March 1, 1978
● The director of the Hong Kong branch of the New China News Agency, Li Chusang, and the popular Chinese actress Shek Wai were among the deputies representing Guangdong province at the Fifth National People’s Congress in Beijing. Altogether 16 of Guangdong’s 161 deputies appointed to the NPC were residents of Hong Kong.
● More than 50 shopkeepers in a Mong Kok arcade unanimously agreed to close their doors the following week in protest of what they called exorbitant rents. They said the proposed rent of nearly HK$30 per square foot was far too high and they demanded it be halved.
March 2, 1978
● China’s parliament was presented with the draft of a revised State Constitution, which made provisions for the country’s ambitious modernisation plans. The draft made a strong call for “consolidating the socialist economic base and developing the productive forces at high speed”.
● A survivor of the Manchu imperial family, Aisin Gioro Pu Chieh, brother of the last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi, was a deputy for Shanghai at the Fifth National People’s Congress but it was unclear what his official functions were in the city, which had sent 184 deputies to the NPC. His brother, Pu Yi, was the 12th ruler of the Qing dynasty and passed away in 1967.
March 3, 1978
● A gang, which turned toy guns into lethal weapons, was quashed by police the day before. Detectives burst into an illegal arms factory in Mong Kok and seized 12 pistols – five of which had already been converted. Police believed the price of a converted pistol was about HK$600.
● Police launched a massive territory-wide manhunt for four male suspects believed to have shot dead an off-duty policeman in a Sham Shui Po gambling den the day before. A HK$25,000 reward was offered for information leading to their arrest.
March 4, 1978
● A decision on whether to build a fixed crossing to Lantau Island might be made in a year. A study had already started to explore the feasibility of developing the northern coast of the island. Regarding private development schemes, a senior government official said preliminary work had begun on building the landing piers at Discovery Bay in preparation for full-scale development.
● Portugal had appointed its vice-premier, Dr Antonio de Almeida Santos, to look after affairs in Macau. Santos would keep in touch with the enclave through the liaison office in Lisbon.
Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history