Remember A Day
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Mahjong-playing Japanese imperial guards, woman gives birth to twins by different fathers: 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, 20 September, 2018, 4:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 September, 2018, 1:07pm

Members of the Japanese imperial guard caught playing mahjong while on duty and an American woman giving birth to twins by different fathers were some of the quirky news items that made headlines four decades ago this week.

September 17, 1978

The head of Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), was set to attend a meeting in New York that month aimed at breaking gangs’ stranglehold of the American city’s Chinatown. Their rising influence and power escalated a year before when the neighbourhood’s unofficial mayor, Lee Man-bun, was stabbed by a gang member.

Champion boxer Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans to win the World Heavyweight Championship for the third time in his career. Ali was the first man to achieve the feat. Following the victory, Ali retired from boxing, only to mount a brief comeback two years later. The champion boxer left the sport permanently in 1981.

September 18, 1978

The Hong Kong Club in Central would have to be demolished to make way for a new building so as to expand facilities and membership, according to its chairman and committee after studying reports on the site’s future. But if members voted to retain the building, remedial work and maintenance could cost about HK$25 million.

Beggars in Manila made more money than many of the Philippines’ industrial workers. The Social Services Ministry said that of the capital’s 1,500 beggars, over 90 per cent earned about 30 pesos a day, compared to a factory worker’s daily minimum wage of 12 pesos.

Urban councillor Elsie Elliott (later Elsie Tu) appealed to anyone possessing opium and a smoking pipe to give them to a 102-year-old woman, whose pipe and paraphernalia had been confiscated. Elliott said a local court should have dismissed the old lady’s case, insisting that taking her opium away would most certainly kill her.

September 19, 1978

Christina Kausova, 27, the shipping millionairess of the Onassis family who married a Soviet citizen a month earlier, was revealed to be expecting a baby in seven months. Kausova, who had already had two miscarriages, was afraid of losing her baby, and would be attended by a Swiss gynaecologist who delivered the two children of actress Sophia Loren.

September 20, 1978

Hunters in Darwin, Australia, searched for an 18-ft crocodile that attacked and sank two fishing boats in the Northern Territory. No one was hurt in the attacks, but in the second incident, the croc ate the petrol tank.

US President Jimmy Carter was nominated by an American congressman for the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize for his mediating role in the Camp David Middle East summit conference, which took place that month. He did not win that year, but was finally awarded the prestigious honour in 2002 “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts”.

September 21, 1978

A newly discovered planet was named Ra-Shalom, in honour of the Middle East peace breakthrough at Camp David earlier that month. Ra is the ancient Egyptian sun god and Shalom is the traditional Hebrew greeting of peace.

Japan’s imperial household was rocked by revelations that senior police officers played mahjong while on duty guarding Emperor Hirohito. The officers, who would face disciplinary action after a full inquiry, were part of a 34-man guard squad. A police spokesman said the officers apparently played the tile game with the understanding the loser would buy dinner and drinks for the other players.

September 22, 1978

British Conservative Party leader, Margaret Thatcher, nicknamed “The Iron Lady” by Soviet commentators, said in a magazine interview that she often wept alone at home when things were too much for her. She also told Woman’s World that she relaxed by ironing clothes or hanging up washing.

A woman in Los Angeles gave birth to twins who had different fathers. The woman admitted she had two men in her life. A blood test based on antigens in the babies’ white blood cells reflected certain genes of both men, one of whom accepted legal paternity of the twins.

September 23, 1978

Hong Kong smokers began paying more for their habit. A packet of 20s that used to cost HK$2.20 went up to HK$2.30. The price rise was announced by the company British American Tobacco, which said the brands affected included Viceroy, 555, Lucky Strike, Benson and Hedges, and Gold Flake.

A Hong Kong woman who pleaded guilty to beating her three-year-old son about 100 times with a cane was sentenced in San Po Kong Magistracy to three months in jail. The child spent several days in hospital after the thrashings. The mother, 32, beat the child because he was watching television instead of doing homework.

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