Pigs on the loose in France and Cosmic Brotherhood cult leader held: 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
Farmers letting loose hundreds of pigs in a small French city to protest against imported bacon, and the launching of an adventurous train journey from Hong Kong to London made the headlines four decades ago this week.
November 26, 1978
● A well-known Hong Kong businessman and sportsman who took up an appointment as chief executive of Philips, a Dutch multinational technology company, was kidnapped at gunpoint outside his office in El Salvador. Frits Schuitema left Hong Kong three months earlier after a successful six-year career as the firm’s marketing manager.
● A multimillion-dollar facelift and development programme had been planned for historic villages in San Tin in the New Territories. The project involved transforming the 700-year-old villages and surrounding land into areas for fisheries, holiday resorts, residential housing blocks, and commercial shopping. Cultural shows had also been planned with exhibitions showcasing local handicraft.
November 27, 1978
● Farmers in Brittany, France, turned loose hundreds of pigs in the streets of Rennes to protest against imported bacon. Police and firefighters were called to round up the animals that were scuttling round the western French cathedral city hours after their release.
● A 16-year-old football fan fatally clubbed a player who scored a goal for the opposing team in the occupied West Bank town of Nablus, police in Tel Aviv said. The 19-year-old had just scored his team’s first goal in a game between two rival Arab schools when the assailant rushed onto the field and hit him over the head with a wooden club.
● The leader of a religious cult on the Mediterranean island of Sicily was arrested and accused of rape, extortion and fraud, Italian police said. Eugenio Siragusa, who founded the Cosmic Brotherhood Study Centre in 1972, lived with about 40 followers near Mount Etna, and claimed to be in touch with extraterrestrial beings.
November 28, 1978
● China continued to execute its dissidents without proper trials, according to a report by Amnesty International. In the 176-page report, the London-based group chronicled a number of what it concluded to be politically motivated but improperly tried imprisonments and executions. One highlighted case was the execution of a 45-year-old teacher for writing and distributing a counter-revolutionary leaflet.
● Chinese senior Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping revealed that he had been asked to take the role of prime minister, which he turned down because of his age and a desire to concentrate on the country’s modernisation plans.
November 29, 1978
● The people of China were told a free speech campaign had been launched in Beijing and that it had the approval of Deng Xiaoping, the country’s popular senior vice-premier. Thousands of people in the capital responded to his endorsement by turning out at two mass rallies and cheered as speakers demanded democracy and human rights.
November 30, 1978
● Legal immigrants from China would swell Hong Kong’s population by 400,000 by 1986 if the rate experienced up until the end of October 1978 continued. The growth would mean the city’s population would hit 5.2 million by 1986.
● The passenger flight service between Guangdong and Hong Kong, scheduled to end shortly, had been extended. A government spokesman did not say how long the service would continue for, although advance bookings were possible till January 1979.
December 1, 1978
● China launched a nationwide audiovisual education scheme to standardise teaching methods from primary to tertiary levels in response to the increasing need for qualified personnel to cope with the “four modernisations” – strengthening agriculture, industry, national defence, and science and technology. The goal was to standardise the general qualifications of teachers and enable experienced ones to teach larger classes with audio and visual aids.
● A British tour group was selling a 42-day rail journey between London and Hong Kong, which would pass through China and the Soviet Union. For the equivalent of HK$16,164, travellers would go one way by train and the other by air. The ticket included a flight to Hong Kong and then a return trip to Britain across China, Mongolia, the Soviet Union and Europe by train; the journey totalled about 16,000km.
December 2, 1978
● A top Chinese Communist Party directive had warned the people not to frighten off foreign investors by giving an image of instability. Senior Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping said he felt the “masses must be guided” and should not hold unbridled demonstrations. Deng stressed the need not to go too far in public protests, and to hold back on criticising the late Chairman Mao Zedong.
Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history