Remember A Day
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A Filipino actress’ virginity, Britain’s flea epidemic and a 13-year-old runaway boy: 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, 11 October, 2018, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 10:32pm

A Filipino actress used her virginity to uphold the honour of Filipinas, and Britain facing an onslaught of fleas were just some of the weird events that made the headlines four decades ago this week.

October 8, 1978

Chinese authorities had agreed, in principle, to allow Western companies to open representative offices in Beijing, European Common Market Commissioner Wilhelm Haferkamp revealed. China also agreed to grant Western businessmen visas for longer visits to the country than before.

Philippine teenage film actress Ruby Manalad said her fight with Hong Kong Immigration authorities was a battle to uphold the honour of Filipinas. She attempted to incite the Philippine government to protest against Hong Kong’s refusal to let her and a friend enter the colony a month prior because immigration officials thought they were prostitutes. Manalad said she was willing to be examined to prove she was a virgin.

October 9, 1978

The world’s second test-tube baby was named Durga, after a Hindu goddess who embodies the female creative force. The six-day-old baby was progressing well at a hospital in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India.

Much of Britain was itching in the throes of the worst flea epidemic for 25 years. A spokesman for the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, a charity caring for thousands of pets, said the number of dogs and cats being treated for fleas had shot up. Even the House of Commons needed to be treated after members of parliament complained of flea bites.

The Hong Kong government was preparing legislation that would place the common medicine codeine on the poisons list, owing to an uptick of drug addicts taking massive quantities of the drug instead of going to methadone clinics.

October 10, 1978

Hong Kong Commissioner of Police Brian Slevin disclosed that the force would ask for tougher laws to plug loopholes, which allowed prostitutes to operate “one-girl brothels” or make use of “pen-pal” advertisements to attract business.

A newly formed 30-member anti-terrorist unit of the Macau police was secretly conducting its training in Hong Kong. The special squad was established five months prior after an anti-terrorist specialist arrived in the enclave to take over a new post as training chief.

October 11, 1978

Five funeral urns believed to be from the Ming dynasty were offered to the Hong Kong Museum of History. The urns were discovered by a Tuen Mun resident in his family’s ancestral grave in 1972.

Hong Kong’s biggest private lot at Tin Shui Wai in Yuen Long was speculated as the site of a massive residential development to include housing, light industry and community facilities. A few landowners and developers, including Cheung Kong and the Canadian Overseas Development Co Ltd, were believed to be holding talks about the site, estimated to be worth at least HK$1.35 billion.

October 12, 1978

A policeman’s pressing need to heed a call of nature was sweet relief to the illegal immigrant he was escorting. The officer was taking the 21-year-old Chinese national to the police post in Sha Tau Kok when he stopped at a toilet, leaving his handcuffed prisoner outside. When he came out, the illegal immigrant had long gone.

October 13, 1978

A 13-year-old boy ran away from his London home to protest against plans to kill off 5,000 seals in the Orkney Islands in Scotland. Matthew Hilton left a note for his mother saying: “Dear Mum, I love you very much but I’m not going to let those men kill the seals.”

Three Australians, including a top rugby player accused of drug trafficking, feared they would face death by firing squad in Thailand. The trio were arrested by Australian and Thai narcotics agents who seized 8.4kg of heroin from their hotel rooms in Bangkok.

October 14, 1978

Elaine Dale, an 18-year-old who was born with thalidomide-induced birth defects, gave birth to a healthy baby girl. The drug, used for a time to treat morning sickness in mothers, was recalled in 1961 due to hundreds of children being born without limbs or suffering from other birth defects. Dale’s baby girl was born with no such deformities, and Dale went on to have another healthy child soon after.

The Hong Kong Consumer Council named and shamed a removal company that quoted low rates to clients, then moved furniture onto a footpath and refused to take it any further until more money was paid. Pak Fook Removal Service was said to have demanded up to HK$700 for services that were originally quoted at HK$80.

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