Murderers caned, hijacker shot dead and baby-killing disease: 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
A race to fight a mystery disease which killed thousands of infants and baffled medical experts in the US and a “tremendous reception” in Britain for a Ku Klux Klan leader hit the headlines four decades ago this week. Back in this corner of the world, a Taiwanese man was shot dead by an air marshal during an attempted hijacking of a China Airlines aircraft en route to Hong Kong.
March 12, 1978
● A hand-drawn flight map was found on a China Airlines flight engineer who was killed when he attacked the two pilots with a pair of scissors and a hammer during a flight from Taipei to Hong Kong. Investigators believed that Taiwanese national Shih Ming-cheng was attempting to divert the flight to China as he was carrying a “written plan for the hijacking”. He was shot dead by an air marshal.
● New ways were being devised in Hong Kong to save 850 government primary school teachers from being forced into retirement by 1980 as a result of an expected drop in enrolments. A teacher representative said there were about 28,000 pupils in government primary schools but if this figure could be raised to about 40,000, the surplus problem would be eliminated.
● American Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke claimed the British people were helping to protect him from a government ban. The 27-year-old Grand Wizard commented: “I am getting a tremendous reception [in Britain].” British police had been trying to serve Duke with a deportation order.
March 13, 1978
● Doomsday evangelist Daniel Rogers and his followers planned a “resurrection” ritual for his mother, who died the previous month at the age of 80. After packing her body in dry ice, Rogers sought permission from Arkansas state authorities to transport it to a tiny southwest Missouri community where he would try to resurrect her with the help of a faith healer from Indonesia.
March 14, 1978
● Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin vowed “to cut off the arm” of the Palestinian movement responsible for the highway massacre that took place three days earlier. In a speech to parliament, he bitterly attacked nations that allowed the Palestine Liberation Organisation to maintain offices on their soil and demanded the PLO representatives be expelled.
March 15, 1978
● Tiger Balm Gardens was to be developed into a HK$200 million residential complex. The 150,000 sq ft site was bought for HK$25 million by Cheung Kong Holdings from Singapore group Haw Par (Private) Pty. Cheung Kong planned to build an upmarket residential complex with a total floor area of 420,000 sq ft. The garden was built in 1935 at a cost of HK$16 million.
● A Tai Kok Tsui woman who picked the winning numbers in a recent Mark Six lottery draw would have been HK$500,000 richer had she not made a mistake in filling out the ticket. The punter selected the correct numbers and duly filled out the customer’s portion of the ticket, but forgot to mark the corresponding selections in the official slip which was microfilmed and kept by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
March 16, 1978
● The extension of legal aid to cover all criminal cases in the District Court would come into effect in a month. The move was made possible as a result of the government’s improved financial position.
● A new disease, as yet unnamed and carried by parents unknowingly, was killing and disabling more children than polio did in the 1950s, said medical researchers in Houston, Texas. The disease, known only as “group B strep”, had already struck 15,000 infants in a year in the US. Half of the babies died while the others were left blind, deaf, mentally retarded or with spinal meningitis.
March 17, 1978
● Local rice prices were expected to rise as a result of a move by the Thai government to restrict exports. Hong Kong traders were told it would go up from HK$1,800 to HK$1,935 per tonne.
● Two Soviet astronauts rocketed back to Earth from the Salyut 6 station after setting a world record of more than 96 days for the longest mission in space. The US had not made a manned space flight since the 1975 joint Apollo-Soyuz mission with the Soviet Union. But flights in the US space shuttle programme were to begin in 1980.
March 18, 1978
● Two convicted murderers were sentenced by a Hong Kong judge to 15 strokes of the cane each after they were found guilty of attacking another inmate in Stanley Prison. The attack took place in a prison toilet three months earlier.
Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history