The China Post staff
Military investigators said yesterday they will take in Justin Lin for interrogation as soon as, or if, the alleged defector returns the island, which he deserted more than two decades ago. Military prosecutors said they will summon Lin, who now serves as a key economic adviser to the Beijing government, to verify he was the senior military official, named Lin Cheng-yi then, who went �missing?in 1979.
They said heavy punishment will be imposed if Lin is confirmed to be the official who treacherously fled Taiwan.
But the interior ministry has confirmed Justin Lin is the missing military official. Lin�s proposed return to Taiwan to attend funeral of his father has created heated debate on the island. The government is painfully trying to strike a balance between humanitarian concerns and independence of the military and justice system. After days of discussions, the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan�s top mainland policy making body, said it would allow Lin to return for his father�s funeral purely on humanitarian grounds. Earlier, Lin indicated he may choose not to come back, a decision analysts said would spare the government unnecessary embarrassment and would spare him from possible punishment. But his brother Lin Wang-sung said yesterday afternoon Lin is waiting for the �atmosphere to calm down?before making a final decision. MAC Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tung announced the decision at a press conference jointly held with the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of the Interior.
But the go-ahead has brought the MAC under heavy attack from the public and lawmakers. Lawmakers said Lin should not be allowed back to the island and giving permission may convey an incorrect message ?that the government is not taking the nation�s dignity seriously. A ranking official at MAC said Lin has to be aware of the possible legal liabilities if he decides to comes back.
�The government can provide no guarantees (against punishment),?the China Times Express quoted the unidentified MAC official as saying. The MAC official said Lin�s return involves a bevy of complex issues which are primarily under the control of the independent military legal system, in which other government agencies have no say.
Defense minister Tang Yiau-ming said yesterday humanitarian considerations should not outweigh military concerns. The direction is very clear, that the military legal agency is fully in control of this case and this should be given due respect, said Tang.
It was reported the government had initially agreed that Lin should just �come and go quietly?before his return came under the spotlight.
President Chen Shui-bian and Premier Yu Shyi-kun had previously okayed Lin�s return, which turned out a miscalculation, as it has met strong opposition from the public and lawmakers. Opposition parties said the government must not forsake the nation and its laws when making the decision. James Soong, chairman of the People First Party, said allowing Lin�s return may only hurt military morale. The former army captain swam from the offshore island of Kinmen to the mainland in a defection. But it remains unknown if Lin took with him any military secrets. The military has offered no details. After his defection, Lin went to the United States and obtained a doctoral degree in economics from the University of Chicago. He now teaches at Beijing University. As a World Bank advisor, Lin is a chief architect of the mainland�s economic reforms.
The Ministry of the Interior has demanded that Lin�s family return to the national coffers total NT$475,000 the government paid in 1980 in compensation after searching for Lin unsuccessfully for a year.