Slice of life

From the South China Morning Post this week in 1954

Self-confessed deserter from the Irish Army, Craftsman M.A. Tobin of the REME attached to Headquarters 27 Infantry Brigade, faced a charge of desertion from Her Majesty's Forces at a court martial held at Fanling.

Tobin, who had proclaimed: 'I am a communist ...' was found guilty of the charge and sentenced to six months' imprisonment, subject to higher military confirmation. He had been absent from his duties from August 10, 1953, to April 17, 1954, when he was handed back by the Chinese authorities at the border at Lowu.

He denied the charge of desertion, but admitted he was absent without official leave for five hours from 6am to 11am on August 10. From then onwards, he said, his absence was not voluntary, as he was taken into custody by the Chinese and held until he was handed back. The prosecuting officer, Captain H. Scott of the Royal Signals, contended that Tobin had a clear knowledge of what would have happened if he had gone across the border into Chinese territory.

He must have known what the outcome would be, and he had to bear the responsibility and the consequences. He alleged that Tobin had deserted and gone across the border into communist China where he stayed for eight months.

In Singapore, more than 100 Chinese students, most of them girls, threw stones at the police in a riot following protests against conscription for national service.

The students marched to Government House, where the Officer Administering the Government had agreed to meet a delegation of eight students to explain national service registration. Sixteen, claiming to be the delegation, turned up with a further 900 claiming they were giving moral support.

When the students refused to disperse, the police charged with batons, injuring several who were clinging to spiked railings. The students eventually split into groups and left. An hour later about 100 returned and refused to move. They threw three stones at the charging police, injuring one sergeant.

The government spokesman said the episode was due to a misunderstanding on the part of the students.

Ninety-eight per cent of those required to register for national service had done so and it was the remaining 2 per cent who were causing the trouble, he said.

The government had assured the students they would be exempt from call-up until examinations were completed. 'The ones who have been creating the disturbance are those who want exemption from registration,' he said.

Editors of the world press unanimously adopted a resolution calling for vigilance in defence of press freedom. The annual meeting of the International Press Institutions in Vienna had already heard members give examples of direct or indirect pressure by governments on newspapers.

Reports from Tokyo said the geisha girl most sought after by senior government officials and millionaire industrialists, 21-year-old Hidekoma, had decided to retire.

Her name was frequently mentioned during recent Diet debates on bribery allegations against government officials and shipbuilding executives.

Hidekoma said she was sick and tired of being a geisha because 'a geisha is just like a doll - she is at the mercy of the proprietress of the [geisha] house'.

She said recent reports that she had grown wealthy from her patrons' lavish spending were incorrect. The only money she received was 10,000 yen a month to send to her mother and a little pocket money for herself.

A skin specialist told an Oklahoma Medical Association meeting that 'daily bathing is the worst thing you can do to your skin, especially when you use soap'. The alkali in soap often caused infection of sensitive areas of the skin. Nations where people seldom took baths suffered least from skin diseases, Dr Earl Osborn said.