A ‘live wire’ gang, fake $50 bank notes and the American involved in the Cultural Revolution: 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
Concorde brought Asia into the supersonic age after completing its maiden flight between London and Singapore this week four decades ago. In Hong Kong, police were kept busy hunting down a gang stealing electricity to illegally supply it to squatters in Kwun Tong and burglars who broke into 34 offices in a Causeway Bay building.
December 11, 1977
● About 100 youngsters from Hong Kong and Macau left for the mainland the day before, with most of them hoping it would be a one-way trip. They were candidates for China’s university entrance examination; or more importantly, the first Hong Kong and Macanese students who were allowed to sit for the examination in 18 years.
● Concorde today clipped more than six hours off the regular flying time from London to Singapore, bringing Asia into the supersonic age. The Anglo-French aeroplane, operated by Singapore International Airlines and British Airways, took seven hours 37 minutes for the 12,688km (7,884 mile) trip.
● The Soviet Union sent two cosmonauts into space early today,overcoming technical problems that stopped earlier cosmonauts from linking up with the orbiting Salyut 6 space station.
December 12, 1977
● The former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, resigned as the President of the Asian Football Confederation following a bitter dispute that left the body in direct confrontation with the Federation of International Football Associations.
December 13, 1977
● A “live wire” gang had made thousands of dollars out of an electricity scam, supplying illegal power to a Kwun Tong squatter area with around 500 homes. However, their ploy was short-circuited the day before when Housing Authority officials discovered the illegal supply line.
● Hong Kong police were hunting a gang of professional burglars who ransacked 34 offices in a Causeway Bay commercial building over the weekend. The gang made off with HK$6,000 in cash and a large quantity of hairdressing shampoo. Police believed the gang was linked to a series of break-ins at a nearby office block a few months back.
December 14, 1977
● It was revealed that counterfeit $50 Malaysian banknotes in circulation were being printed in Hong Kong. Police in Kuala Lumpur believed the forged notes had been in circulation since 1975.
● Israeli and Egyptian experts met in a first preparatory session leading up to the formal Middle East peace talks expected to open the following day. Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance arrived in Syria for what were likely to be difficult talks with President Hafez al-Assad over Egyptian-Israeli peace efforts.
December 15, 1977
● The ambitious HK$800 million Aberdeen Centre project, which reportedly would “double the size of Aberdeen” was expected to be announced the following week. The proposed Aberdeen Centre would have 19 towers providing more than 1.8 million sq ft of residential space and a commercial area of nearly 300,000 sq ft.
● Egypt and Israel today pledged to work for lasting Middle East peace at the formal opening of talks aimed at ending three decades of hostilities. But both countries’ opening speeches at the peace conference in Cairo revealed continuing deep differences over the Palestinian question.
December 16, 1977
● A HK$13 million resort complex including a luxury hotel would be built on Cheung Chau the following year. However, because of the difficulties of transporting building materials to the site, it would be at least 18 months before the complex could be completed. The luxury hotel would have 50 rooms and 15 suites, a restaurant and coffee lounge.
● The head of the government’s only geriatric unit had attacked the unit as being a “showcase” that did not actually serve the needs of elderly patients. The doctor said the 74-bed unit at Princess Margaret Hospital was not big enough to serve the 250,000 potential patients over the age of 65.
December 17, 1977
● One of the most mysterious figures in China’s recent history, American Sidney Rittenberg, had been released from his second imprisonment, after spending a total of 16 years in detention. Rittenberg, the last foreigner deeply involved in the Cultural Revolution to have been under Chinese detention, had taken command of Peking Radio at the height of the Cultural Revolution that ran from 1966 till 1976.
Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history