Remember A Day

Rat tails demanded for bank loans in Indonesia, a British lord on unemployment and plans to take Concorde to China: 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, 15 November, 2018, 4:40pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2018, 9:32pm

November 12, 1978

A Hong Kong seaman suspected of killing a shipmate in international waters was to be referred to a Marine Department Board of Reference following a two-day hearing into the grisly incident. According to a Marine Department official, the harshest penalty the board could hand down was to suspend the unnamed suspect from the seamen’s register for five years. After that period expired, he could return to working as a sailor.

November 13, 1978

Farmers in Indramayu in West Java, Indonesia, applying for credit to buy rice seeds and fertiliser, complained that the bank had requested them to produce 100 rat tails before their request would be considered. They needed to collect 100 rat tails for every acre of rice field they wanted to plant as part of the area’s rodent eradication programme.

Scores of electrical appliances, including television sets and refrigerators broke down on Coloane in Macau as a result of the island’s small power plant generating electricity at twice its normal capacity, which was 400 instead of 220 volts. Islanders whose appliances were damaged were demanding compensation from the power company, in the region of 100,000 patacas.

The senior Chinese Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping launched into talks with Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and was immediately warned not to meddle with the country’s dominant Chinese population. At a banquet in Deng’s honour Lee told Deng not to woo ethnic Chinese in the island republic to China’s cause. Lee, while acknowledging his own Chinese origins, said Chinese Singaporeans had their own experience and history.

November 14, 1978

The property market showed signs of weakening for the first time after more than two years of boom with the withdrawal from public auction of a prime site in Tsim Sha Tsui East valued at HK$350 million. The rising prime lending rate on the international monetary market, particularly in the US, was said to be the major contributing factor for the failure to sell the valuable piece of non-industrial land.

November 15, 1978

The Television Advisory Board expressed concern over the industry’s deteriorating financial state. It called for greater cooperation between the two stations – TVB and RTV. Some of the contributing factors to a gloomy future for the industry included the heavy burden of local production costs and the continual competition in attracting talent. The board said greater talent required greater reward and the unrelenting bidding wars had been damaging to the industry, which was suffering an overall financial deficit.

November 16, 1978

A 30-year-old man was sentenced to life imprisonment in Mandalay, Burma (now called Myanmar), for possessing two poetry books containing tedious anti-government statements, reported the state-owned newspaper Vanguard.

A consortium, including the Hyatt International Corp. and Paul Y Construction Co, was to recommend to the Chinese authorities that it build a chain of hotels in nine cities worth a total of US$3.7 billion.

November 17, 1978

The newest member of the British House of Lords, Lord Latham, used his title for the first time – to register at the unemployment office in Sydney. Lord Latham of Hendon, otherwise known as Dominic Latham, 24, of Sydney, inherited his peerage in 1970 when his grandfather died. He took his seat in the House of Lords the month before and later admitted that the cost of establishing his right to the title left him broke.

November 18, 1978

British Airways hoped to start using the Concorde supersonic airliner on scheduled services to China and Canada from 1979. Its general manager, Ross Stainton, said China was “opening up at an impressive rate” and there was a big potential market for business travellers, followed by a developing flow of tourists. If the airline obtained routes into China, he added, “we should start off with subsonic flights via Hong Kong”.

A delegation from China was to arrive in the US in 10 days to discuss the possible purchase of a domestic communications satellite, the US State Department announced. After exploratory talks with American government officials about the sale and launch of a satellite, the delegation headed by the director of the China Space Technology Research Institute, Dr Jen Hsinmin, would visit public and private aerospace industry sites around the country.

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

Rat tails demanded in return for bank loans in a small West Java town in Indonesia, a British lord on the dole in Australia and plans to bring Concorde to China made the headlines four decades ago this week.