Hongkongers warned not to discuss sex lives and China spreads its wings: 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
China was spreading its wings in the international aviation sector by showing a strong interest in purchasing a fleet of Boeing jumbo jets four decades ago this week. While back in Hong Kong, authorities warned the public not to give out details of their sex lives to impostors claiming to be conducting surveys for the Family Planning Association.
March 26, 1978
● Hong Kong detectives warned local jewellers and diamond brokers that criminals might try to sell diamonds worth HK$250,000 that had been stolen during a robbery in Melbourne, Australia, in which three merchants were shot dead.
● A Hong Kong University diving team discovered a massive bed of perfect coral, which they said was comparable to the best reefs in Thailand or Singapore. The healthy coral, which was alive with colour, extended to a depth of 19 metres and completely encircled a nearby island.
March 27, 1978
● Thousands of rampaging protesters, including farmers and students, staged an all-out bid to stop Tokyo’s new Narita International Airport opening by storming police barricades and smashing millions of dollars worth of new equipment in the control tower. The clashes stemmed from farmers’ claims they were unfairly compensated when they lost their land to make way for construction of the airport. Meanwhile, students alleged the airport could have military uses.
March 28, 1978
● Philippine security forces hunted a mystery group that tossed a grenade and planted explosives in the heavily guarded presidential retreat in northern Baguio City over the Easter weekend. The operation prompted speculation on whether more such incidents would occur during campaigning for the country’s imminent first elections under martial law.
March 29, 1978
● The government announced it would pay consultants HK$600,000 to advise on how to spend a HK$400 million to “electrify” the KCR. The consultants were asked to draw up a programme to get the KCR running with electricity and to recommend how this could be achieved by the earliest possible date.
● Police advised Hong Kong people to beware of counterfeit HK$5 coins after a series of raids in which four men and a woman were arrested and 7,148 of such coins seized.
March 30, 1978
● It was announced radar stations would be built on Waglan Island and Green Island to monitor ships’ movement, while the compulsory use of Very High Frequency (VHF) radio telephones by incoming vessels would further reduce the risk of collisions. At the time, the Marine Department’s signal stations on both islands depended on visual contact.
Gold to encourage defections, Colombian chocolate robbers and a vanishing Korean actress: headlines from four decades ago
● Terrified villagers mounted a round-the-clock guard against a suspected arsonist. The people of Tin Ping Shan village in Sheung Shui, were convinced the man was responsible for a spate of fires in the area. Despite police reassurances of extra patrols, the villagers were taking no risks with their lives or property.
March 31, 1978
● China advertised an interest in buying a fleet of jumbo jets after viewing Boeing’s widebody 747 and the smaller, shorter-range 727. China was reportedly thinking of purchasing up to 20 of these jets at a price of US$40 million for a 747 and up to US$32 million for a 727.
● Australia’s land mass was moving towards China, according to Dr Lawrence Drake, director of Sydney’s famous Riverview Observatory. He reported Australia was moving northwards by about 5cm a year.
● A 26-year-old British actress, Elaine Paige, won the coveted role of Eva Peron in the new musical Evita. She was selected from nearly 1,000 women to play the lead in the show, which was based on the rags to riches life of the former first lady of Argentina.
April 1, 1978
● People claiming to represent the Family Planning Association made nuisance telephone calls asking their victims to supply vivid details about their sex lives. The association stated that in any surveys conducted by them, households involved would always be notified in advance.
● Saudi Arabia and France were negotiating over military purchases in what observers predicted could be “the sale of the century”. If the contracts were signed, they could amount to US$3.5 billion. The purchases were believed to include the most sophisticated warplanes, missiles, tanks and a radar system to cover the entire Arabian peninsula, the Red Sea, Sudan and Somalia.
Excessive executions, a Red Army blacklist and a house on The Peak for ‘only’ HK$4 million: headlines from four decades ago
● A Tsim Sha Tsui East lot was sold for HK$173 million, the highest price on record in the district, at a public auction in the City Hall. It was also the highest price per square foot in the area at HK$5,483.
Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history