Racy goings-on, Kai Tak cordon and post-colonial questions: 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
Besides sounding a bit racy, it was also hard to believe that the US government was planning to sell a topless bar; however it certainly made headlines four decades ago this week alongside racketeering scandals and the question of Hong Kong’s post-colonial future. Meanwhile, March 24, 1978 was Good Friday and therefore a non-publishing day.
March 19, 1978
● Investors in Hong Kong were becoming increasingly concerned about the future of the New Territories which was expected to revert to China in 1997, Chief Secretary Denys Roberts said. Roberts said the British government had negotiated a 99-year treaty in 1898 with China for the 360 square miles (932 sq km) of land, which was largely agricultural.
● There was an illegal racket smuggling Chinese immigrants from Indonesia into China by way of Hong Kong, according to a newspaper. The Indonesian paper claimed that two Chinese people were arrested earlier in the month in relation to the smuggling of 1,252 illegal immigrants across the border. One of the suspects was a former teacher from Beijing.
March 20, 1978
● About 130 pigeons flew 40 miles (64km) from Macau to Hong Kong in the first bird race between the two cities. The birds were taken to Macau by ship three days earlier and set off to race at 7.30am from the waterfront near the Hong Kong-Macau hydrofoil terminal.
● The US government was selling a topless bar opposite the FBI headquarters in Washington, 10 luxury cars, jewellery, a house boat, an electric organ and a TV set, all of which were confiscated from a former transport department clerk who embezzled from government coffers a year earlier.
March 21, 1978
● Both Hong Kong and Macau had been assured of more supplies of pigs, vegetables and poultry from mainland China. The pledge was given by the chairman of Macau’s Chinese Chamber of Commerce, who said farms across the border would be enlarged to produce more food for the two cities.
● The Soviet Union said China had effectively rejected a new proposal from Moscow aimed at improving bilateral relations between the two. It was the first confirmation in Moscow that such a message had been sent to Beijing.
● The Marine District police commander, Szeto Che-yan, became the first local officer in the force to attain the rank of assistant commissioner of police. A former police interpreter, Szeto joined the force as a junior inspector in 1948.
March 22, 1978
● For the first time in 10 years, Chinese residents in Hong Kong and Macau would be allowed to take joss sticks, candles and “ghost money” into the mainland during the Ching Ming festival. These travellers could obtain special “tomb sweeping passes” that could be applied for through left-wing organisations in the enclave.
● A 30-storey hotel with modern facilities was being planned as a major boost for Shanghai’s thriving tourism sector. The planning was still in its initial stages and details were being discussed, but it was disclosed that it would be able to accommodate 1,500 guests.
March 23, 1978
● Hong Kong hailed the 10-month extension of the term of governorship of Murray MacLehose, who was loved by many locals for his contributions to improving the quality of life in the city through his social and economic development programmes and anti-corruption drive.
● A security cordon was thrown around members of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra on their arrival at Kai Tak Airport. The 117 musicians, who would give concerts over the next two nights, were escorted by armed police as they hurriedly left the airport and boarded buses.
March 25, 1978
● China was organising its first big multinational industrial exhibition since 1949 in Beijing later in October. The fair, further proof of the country’s opening to the outside world, would have stands from a dozen countries and concentrate on agricultural machinery. Besides agricultural machinery, exhibitors had been invited to bring equipment for fish farming, forestry, fertilisers, insecticides and agricultural research.
Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history