Remember A Day

A Coca-Cola crisis, a 12kg cyst and Hong Kong’s tallest building: 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

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2018, 1:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2018, 8:20pm

A Coca-Cola shortage in Hong Kong and the start of construction on the tallest building in the city were some of the big headlines four decades ago this week.

May 7, 1978

Supplies of Coca-Cola dried up the day before, when about 370 deliverymen staged a strike at their depots, demanding an extra one-cent commission on every crate of the drink they handled. The workers who initiated the sit-in justified their actions by stating that the same amount of commission had been given to truck drivers the month before.

A mainland Chinese official was accused of misappropriating about HK$508.5 million to build luxurious houses, office buildings, recreational clubs and an opera house for exclusive use by senior Communist Party officials. Liaoning’s First Secretary Liu Teh-tsai was said to have begun misappropriating the funds in 1974 by withholding profits and state revenue.

May 8, 1978

Hong Kong Marine Police called on the Royal Navy to help handle the major influx of Vietnamese refugees expected in the coming days. Thousands of refugees, mainly of Chinese origin, were attempting to flee the communist regime in Vietnam.

Two homes owned by people who sold their farms to the new Tokyo International Airport Corporation were set on fire. Police blamed anti-Narita airport radicals for the incidents.

May 9, 1978

The construction of Hong Kong’s tallest building had begun on reclaimed land in Wan Chai, developer of Sun Hung Kai Properties said. The building, to be called the Sun Hung Kai Centre, would be 52 storeys tall (600ft) – a foot taller than Connaught Centre. It was due to be completed by the end of 1980.

Russia turns to Abba while dim sum goes international: headlines from four decades ago

May 10, 1978

Twenty-four people were injured, two of them seriously, when two bun towers collapsed during the annual bun festival in Cheung Chau. The 60-foot towers toppled as the festival reached its climax.

For slightly more than HK$1 million, RTV (now known as ATV) attempted to buy the rights to cover racing at the Happy Valley and Sha Tin racecourses for the next two years. It was understood that RTV offered the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club three times more money than required for the contract. But it failed to secure the deal because it could not demonstrate how it would cover the racing meetings. To improve its coverage of the events, RTV required HK$2.4 million worth of new equipment.

May 11, 1978

Hong Kong residents were once again presented with the possibility of buying new homes in Guangdong. According to an official mainland report, a scheme for overseas Chinese to buy new homes had already begun, and some would be ready for occupation by the end of the year.

Britain’s Princess Margaret announced that she was seeking a divorce from her photographer husband, Lord Snowdon, after years of domestic unhappiness. The announcement came as little surprise to the world, as the princess’ marital problems had provided the royal family with its biggest domestic upsets over the course of 40 years.

China lodged a “strong protest” with Tokyo, accusing Japan of infringing Chinese sovereignty over the continental shelf in the Yellow Sea. This was the third protest from Beijing over an agreement that covered exploitation of the shelf between Korea and Japan, as China’s own Liaodong Peninsula lay on the other side of the disputed shelf.

May 12, 1978

Property speculators who snapped up flats in a Pok Fu Lam development earlier in the week stood to make profits of between 600 and 2,000 per cent. Ninety per cent of the 1,120 flats in Pok Fu Lam Gardens were acquired by eager buyers who flocked to the developers’ offices as soon as sales opened. Some of the units were offered for resale on property exchanges in Chinese newspapers for between HK$20,000 and HK$60,000 for a right to purchase, depending on the size of the flat. Buyers had paid only HK$3,000 as a deposit.

May 13, 1978

A team of Chinese surgeons removed a cyst weighing 11.8kg (26lbs) from the abdomen of a 34-year-old Algerian woman by using acupuncture instead of anaesthesia, the Algerian News Agency reported. It said the operation went smoothly for the mother of four, and her condition was satisfactory.

In response to a stiff Chinese verbal protest, the Soviet Union expressed its “very deep regret” over a border incident in which Chinese civilians were said to have been wounded. A Soviet helicopter and about 30 soldiers had penetrated 4km into Chinese territory, Beijing claimed. Meanwhile, the Kremlin denied that there had been any injuries.

Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history