An airport taxi racket, a missing nuclear device and a sex-crazed frog: 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 Caribbean republic had the foresight decades ago to flog luxury properties in exchange for citizenships to attract Hong Kong investors. Meanwhile, a minuscule frog obsessed with sex and a shoplifting deterrent in the form of subliminal electronic stimuli made the news four decades ago this week.
April 9, 1978
● Preparations were underway for twice-daily flights between Hong Kong and Guangdong, using China’s Trident jets. Meanwhile, plans were also in the pipeline for Thailand to operate commercial flights between Bangkok and a selection of mainland Chinese cities.
● Taxi operators, police and transport officials faced difficulties cracking down on a taxi racket that had been monopolising services from Kai Tak Airport for over 10 years. Apart from overcharging passengers, the racketeers also demanded compensation from other drivers not in the syndicate who wanted to operate from the airport.
April 10, 1978
● A cartoon portraying the mayor of Beijing, Wu De, as a doll swaying from left to right went up in Tiananmen Square, the scene of anti-extremist riots that he helped quell in April 1976. It was the latest in a series of attacks on the mayor over several days. The cartoon contained a pun on the mayor’s name, which in Mandarin sounds similar to a phrase that means “without virtue”.
● Princess Margaret offered to step down from her official duties as a result of a scandal over her affair with Roddy Llewelyn. The Queen rejected her sister’s offer as she did not think there was “any durability” to the liaison between the princess, 48, and the would-be pop singer, who was 16 years her junior.
April 11, 1978
● A Caribbean nation offered Hong Kong residents an opportunity for citizenship if they bought flats in a housing complex. The Dominican Republic encouraged foreign investors to settle there on condition that they purchase a condominium flat, priced from HK$300,000 to more than HK$600,000. Successful investors were promised a passport within two to three months.
● Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos ordered a new martial law clampdown on free assembly and debate. The move followed a resurgence of street protests against his more than five years of martial rule. He also warned he would be keeping open the option of restoring the midnight-to-dawn curfew.
April 12, 1978
● A tiny frog with an obsession for sex became hot news in the world of zoology. A team of zoologists from three universities in Australia and the US discovered the frogs – the smallest in Australia, measuring a half inch long – near the northern tip of Western Australia. The scientists said the male frogs were preoccupied most of the day with trying to attract a female by singing loudly.
● The government announced that rent controls would not be lifted for the next 18 months. Rent control was in force between 1963 and 1966 and was reintroduced in 1970.
April 13, 1978
● RTHK director Donald Kerr agreed to take part in a public debate on recent controversial radio programme changes. Critics complained about cuts in the number of hours of classical music being broadcast since new schedules took effect at Radios 3 and 4 earlier this month.
● American singer Bette Midler, fearing exchange rate fluctuations would result in loss of income, demanded that she be paid in gold bullion for her upcoming appearances in Britain.
April 14, 1978
● A behavioural scientist hoped he had found an electronic conscience for shoplifters, a little voice in the store’s background music saying “I will not steal”. A theft deterrent that used such subliminal stimuli was being field-tested in a store in an unidentified US city, said Dr Hal Becker of Metairie, Louisiana. He said appealing to the subconscious to suppress the urge to shoplift was similar to the successful use of a similar method for weight control.
● Israeli officials reacted angrily to a diplomatic flurry in Washington in which US President Jimmy Carter called Tel Aviv the capital of Israel. Israelis considered Jerusalem their capital, although the United States had refused to recognise it as such and had balked at transferring its embassy.
● India demanded that the US promptly look into reports of an American nuclear device lost in the Himalayas 13 years ago and inform it of the potential hazards. The device was supposed to have been planted on Nanda Devi, India’s second-highest mountain, to monitor nuclear explosions inside China, but bad weather had forced climbers to abandon the operation and leave the device behind before reaching the summit.
China’s very own Watergate-style scandal and a top university post for a former spy: headlines from four decades ago
April 15, 1978
● A San Francisco baker was not required to make monthly alimony payments to his former wife, a court ruled, because he was, in fact, a woman. James Corazzini, 50, was married to Linda Corazzini, for 23 years. Together they had a 16-year-old daughter, who was born after artificial insemination. The court said the union was invalid because the law required that a marriage involve a man and a woman. The estranged wife had known all along that her spouse was a woman.
Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history