Angry seamen, a diplomatic rumpus and a mainland love story: headlines from four decades ago
A journey back through time to look at significant news and events reported by the South China Morning Post during this week in history
Spies, intrigue and a diplomatic kerfuffle were on the front pages of the South China Morning Post 40 years ago this week. And Hong Kong police were given a headache when their interpreters refused to carry out non-essential duties, including advising officers on personal matters. But amid the conflict and rancour, love blossomed across the border, as a Parisian international student was allowed to marry her Beijing boyfriend, during a decade when mixed unions were both novel and rare.
September 26, 1977
● In a story more suited to an action film or a spy novel than real life, a group of Hong Kong sailors were reported to have barricaded themselves inside the Seamen’s Club in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to hide from a revenge attack by a group of foreign sailors. The incident was triggered by a heated argument between the Hong Kong sailors and some testy Asian seamen, who were said to have tried to “probe” the Hong Kong group for information on the then British colony, and China. The club was said to be a “hotbed of international espionage, infiltrated by east European and pro-Russian elements.”
● The Hungarian-born wife of the manager of the Kuwait football team became the centre of an undiplomatic rumpus at Kai Tak airport when she and her 20-month-old daughter were refused entry to Hong Kong. The uproar was resolved four hours later, when immigration officials gave the pair week-long visas. The Kuwaitis were in the city to play Hong Kong in a World Cup qualifying match.
September 27, 1977
● Police interpreters refused to handle non-official duties, such as preparing case exhibits, translating court papers, preparing case summaries, and advising rank-and-file officers on personal matters. The build-up of duties, and the translators’ subsequent work-to-rule, had created a huge headache for the force, which faced a staff shortage. The industrial action came after a breakdown in pay negotiations.
● The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club’s bumper betting turnover in the previous racing season had enabled it to give a record HK$71.8 million to charity. That amount was disclosed after the club came under pressure to make its accounts public.
September 28, 1977
● Interracial marriages were basically non-existent in mainland China back in the 1970s. But a rare pairing of a French lady and a Chinese man graced the paper on this day 40 years ago. It was a Chinese love story with a happy ending when Odile Perquin, from Paris, got permission from the mainland government to marry Beijinger Tian Li. The pair, both aged 28, had met while studying at Shanghai’s Fudan University.
September 29, 1977
● A mainland Chinese man who stabbed a visiting New York lawyer in Beijing 10 days earlier was executed. The identity of the attacker, who was 35 years old, was not revealed. The victim, Richard Talmadge, came to China with film stars William Holden and Stephanie Powers to buy art.
September 30, 1977
● A leading local barrister, Miles Jackson-Lipkin QC, lashed out at the legislative process, saying Hong Kong’s laws were outdated, citing some that were drafted in the 14th century. He said no one was to blame, but that the legislative process had just not kept pace with social progress. He said consumer protection was another area seriously lacking up-to-date legislation.
October 1, 1977
● China turned the big tap back on for Hong Kong, after its water supply to the city was turned off for two months for maintenance. Mainland China provided almost 40 per cent of the city’s average daily water consumption at the time.
● A working party set up to advise on post-Form Three education was in favour of dropping the controversial Junior Certificate of Education exam, before it was held for the first time in 1980. The test was intended to select the top 40 per cent of Form Three pupils for subsidised places at secondary school.
Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history