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又中又英|The Night of the Long Knives

又中又英|The Night of the Long Knives

2022-05-16

又中又英|The Night of the Long Knives
 

To jump or wait to be pushed? Many senior government officials are likely wondering about this. Incoming chief executive John Lee Ka-chiu has said he wants a passionate government team to bring in a new chapter for Hong Kong. He has not said clearly if he wants new blood or if the existing team is passionate enough for a new chapter. If he keeps all the current bureau heads and executive councilors many people will see it as old wine in a new bottle. Will he push some or will some jump? To be pushed in this expression means to be fired. To jump means to resign first because you know you will be fired.

Only Lee Ka-chiu knows who he will eventually decide to push. Only senior officials and executive councillors know if they will jump. Hong Kong’s political system means Lee Ka-chiu cannot decide on his own who to push. Beijing has the final word, which means the power to make the final decision. Thinking about who will be pushed or who will jump when the new chief executive takes over reminded me of Adolf Hitler’s 1934 purge of his political enemies to strengthen his own position. The word “purge” in political terms means to get rid of people in the government or an organization because you disagree with them. Hundreds were executed during Hitler’s purge.

It was called The Night of the Long Knives. Lee Ka-chiu is, of course, not a dictator who can execute people! Britain also had a Night of the Long Knives in 1962. The prime minister at the time, Harold Macmillan, fired seven cabinet members to bring in new blood because his Conservative Party was losing popularity. Cabinet members are people who advise the leader. Hong Kong’s executive council is similar to a cabinet. Macmillan’s firing of so many cabinet members so quickly was referred to as the Night of the Long Knives. There, of course, cannot be a British-style Night of the Long Knives in Hong Kong because the political system is very different.

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