Remember A Day
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Road tests for prams, Indonesian tomb raiders and Hongkongers’ porn habits: 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, 27 September, 2018, 11:07am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 8:32pm

Prams being tested for roadworthiness in Britain and tomb raiders caught stealing human fossils in Indonesia were some of the weirder events that made headlines four decades ago this week.

September 24, 1978

A man ordered to be caned by a Hong Kong magistrate following a bar brawl was in fact an anti-terrorist expert who had been teaching local policemen his skills. Peter Walne, who was attached to the British Army, had been ordered to receive six strokes of the cane at Stanley Prison.

Belgium’s ‘King of Liars’ and abusive parking meters: past headlines

September 25, 1978

A baby was born 45 minutes after her mother was killed in a road accident in Cardiff, Wales. The girl was delivered via an emergency caesarean operation and weighed four pounds five ounces.

Planners said the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1 would pass with little fanfare that year, unlike previous years when there were massive celebrations. The official reason given was to save money. However, there would be big celebrations on October 1 the year after to mark the 30th anniversary of National Day.

September 26, 1978

The British government announced tough new road safety tests – for prams. Under regulations coming into force in 1979, such four-wheeled carriages would be examined for the efficiency of their brakes, suspension, and even their cornering ability.

Tuen Mun in the northwestern New Territories was set to get a light rail system to serve the new township and link it with Yuen Long. The system was favoured over a bus-based option.

A YSL perfume ban and a proposal to prohibit motorcycles: past headlines

September 27, 1978

Police in West Java, Indonesia, arrested 15 grave robbers who specialised in collecting fossilised remains of people who died hundreds of years ago. National news agency KNI said certain Chinese financiers in Jakarta were willing to pay up to the equivalent of HK$160,000 for a well-preserved body. Their obsession was driven by a superstitious belief that they could extract something from the fossils that would make them impervious to all kinds of weapons.

September 28, 1978

An odd-job man was caught trying to break into a prison in the southern English town of Lewes in East Sussex. Terry O’Neill told the court that he felt safe only in prison, so he staged a jail break to get back inside. He told the court: “I didn’t feel safe on the streets with all that crime.”

September 29, 1978

One in every 10 women in Hong Kong was either a bar girl or prostitute, and Hongkongers read about HK$530,000 worth of local pornographic magazines every year, according to the findings of a sex and pornography survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. This study was believed to be the most comprehensive of its kind in the city.

Beijing’s town planners decided to reverse 30 years of policy and turn the drab and dirty Chinese capital into a centre of culture, education and scientific research. The aim was to overhaul Beijing and transform it into a “modern and clean metropolis in which someone standing on the white pagoda [temple] in Beihai Park might have a clear view of the western hills 15 miles away”, according to the official New China News Agency.

September 30, 1978

Pope John Paul I, who had been elected Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church just 33 days earlier, died of a heart attack during the night, the Vatican announced the day before. The 65-year-old Pope’s reign was one of the briefest in history, but his obvious humanity had nonetheless endeared him to millions. A Vatican announcement said John Paul, who had a history of health problems, died while reading the 15th century book of meditations, The Imitation of Christ.

Suspected drug kingpin Ma Sik-chun liquidated HK$20 million worth of assets before fleeing Hong Kong for Taiwan earlier that month. A search by the Post of land titles and company registrations revealed a series of property transfers sufficient to secure Ma and his associates a new life in another city.

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