Lin won’t return

The China Post & CNA

Former Taiwan military officer Lin Yifu (Justin Lin) who defected to mainland China 23 years ago decided not to return here to attend his father’s funeral. But his wife Chen Yun-yin flew in from Beijing via Hong Kong yesterday and said that she will read a eulogy on behalf of her husband at the funeral to be held in Ilan County tomorrow.

Lin, who is now the director of Peking University’s China Economic Research Center, is considered a defector from Taiwan and could face a court martial if he returns.

In a statement issued in Beijing, Lin said he appreciates that the Taiwan authorities will allow him to return to Taiwan on humanitarian considerations. But he decided to let his wife attend the funeral on his behalf of him because he does not want to see that his trip add more troubles and controversies to Taiwan. The possible return of Lin has sparked sizzling debate between people holding opposing views in Taiwan. Lin was denied a visa to Taiwan six years ago when his mother died.

The decision-making body Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) already gave the go-ahead for Lin to attend his father’s funeral on humanitarian grounds. But the MAC also warned Lin would face legal action from the military court over his defection in 1979.

“Lin will face legal action from the military court concerning his case. If his defection is proved true, he should be condemned regardless of his motive,” MAC Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tung said.

Chen said yesterday that Lin’s entry permit was issued on May 31 and will remain effective for five days after he arrives in Taiwan. He said that five days should be enough for him to attend the funeral. Yet many people in Taiwan remain opposed to Lin’s return to Taiwan unless he is held accountable for what he did more than two decades ago. Lin was a company commander in the army posted to Taiwan’s frontline island of Kinmen in 1979 when he swam across the narrow channel separating Kinmen and Xiamen City in Fujian Province to defect to mainland China.

The defection was all the more embarrassing to the Taipei authorities because they had been grooming Lin as a model of the young military officer when he gave up his studies at National Taiwan University (NTU) in 1972 to enroll in the Chinese Military Academy in Taiwan.

Meanwhile, an army officer who also attended NTU, was rolled out by the military 23 years ago in an attempt to cover up Lin’s defection, came forward to oppose Lin’s return from the mainland. Please see LIN on page

Chen Hsian-liang, who followed in Lin’s footsteps as a career officer after graduating from NTU in 1973, said the Ministry of National Defense made him into a kind of substitute for Lin, introducing him to the media in order to dispute “allegations” that an officer with an NTU background had deserted.

Chen said, however, that Lin’s desertion cast doubt in the military on officers with civilian university backgrounds and damaged the military careers of these people.

Chen, who is in the process of retiring from the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CIST) with the rank of colonel, said he was transferred from the army to the CIST ten years ago with the aid of then-Defense Minister Chiang Chung-ling.

Desertion is a disgrace to all graduates of the Chinese Military Academy and will never be forgiven said Chen, adding that the government’s handling of Lin’s case will be a test of its determination to stick to the letter of the law and a challenge to the values of Taiwan society.

In his statement yesterday, Lin expressed his sincere apology and regret for what has happened to his former colleagues in Taiwan, especially Chen and other officers with similar background. Lin stressed that he will stick to his original principles, to continue making contributions to the economic development and prosperity for both the mainland and Taiwan.