Remember A Day

A nude beauty pageant, long-lost siblings reunited and an escaped elephant: 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, 26 July, 2018, 11:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 July, 2018, 9:42pm

China setting up “the world’s largest restaurant” to serve Peking duck and a San Francisco man suing his girlfriend for standing him up on a date made the headlines four decades ago this week.

July 23, 1978

It was an exciting day for an elderly Hong Kong woman who met her 59-year-old brother for the first time. Ng Lau Kam-fung, 79, was left behind in Guangdong when her parents emigrated to Canada in 1919. Her brother and two younger sisters were born there. Ng moved to Hong Kong in 1958.

A 19-year-old American girl from Florida won what was billed as the world’s most “revealing and honest” beauty contest, held in Ontario. Judy Portinga donned her winner’s crown, which was the most clothing she had worn since taking part in the Miss Nude World beauty pageant. Twenty women, most of whom were from the US, paraded nude in front of a 3,000-strong audience at a nudist camp 65km west of Toronto.

July 24, 1978

A BBC documentary series about the Royal Hong Kong Police Force was banned from local television screens because it showed the force in “a bad light”. A government source claimed senior force management feared that Hong Kong Beat would have a negative impact on police morale and raise questions over police conduct.

July 25, 1978

Prince’s Building and the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Central were leaning slightly towards each other, and the construction of the Mass Transit Railway nearby might have been to blame. According to MTR chairman Norman Thompson, the tilt could be measured in millimetres, but the “much expected” situation was under control.

July 26, 1978

China asked nine friendly countries for samples of their military uniforms as it was considering reinstating the system of ranks and uniforms in the People’s Liberation Army. Ranks had been abolished in 1965 as a result of the Cultural Revolution.

July 27, 1978

The “miracle” child conceived outside her mother’s body and described as the world’s first test-tube baby was doing fine in a small town in northwest England. The Daily Mail reportedly paid £325,000 for the exclusive rights to the news story.

Scores of police officers and armed keepers were hunting for a two-tonne elephant named Hazel near Windsor in southeast England after she burst out of her compound in a safari park. Up to 13 square kilometres of Windsor Forest (today’s Windsor Royal Park) were sealed off, and a Guide camp was evacuated to enable the search.

July 28, 1978

A San Francisco court heard that an accountant was suing his girlfriend for US$38 in damages to cover tickets, fuel and lost time after she did not keep a theatre date they had previously agreed to.

China placed orders for five offshore oil rigs from Japanese and American companies. Two of them would be supplied by Japan’s Hitachi and three by two US firms. The Hitachi contract amounted to 11 billion yen and was to be paid in cash, while details of the other contracts were not divulged.

July 29, 1978

China planned to establish “the world’s largest restaurant” in Beijing to meet growing demand for Peking duck and to earn much-needed foreign exchange, according to Kyodo News Service. The report said a seven-storey restaurant with a capacity of 2,000 diners was under construction near Tiananmen Square and was expected to open in early 1979. Some food critics voiced concern over the taste of mass-produced Peking duck, as one of the hallmarks of the dish was that it was prepared and roasted with “loving care and patience”.

Greek millionaire Christina Onassis, after dismissing the idea as preposterous for weeks, confirmed she would marry a Soviet bureaucrat in Moscow the following week. The 27-year-old, twice-divorced daughter of late shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis would marry Sergei Kauzov, a former employee of the tanker division of a Soviet freight firm.

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