Sun, Sep 08, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan in Time: The rejected and disappointed patriots

Lin Hsien-tang was honored to attend the Japanese surrender ceremony in Nanjing in 1945, but he soon grew disillusioned with KMT misrule and left Taiwan

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Shih Yu-min (石裕民) writes in the study, “Chiang Wei-shui before and after the 228 Incident” (二二八事件前後的蔣渭水), “Wu’s description shows that the invitation by the KMT helped alleviate concerns about the identity of Taiwanese during the transition. People were assured that they were indeed Chinese, who belonged to the victorious side.”

Taiwanese civic leaders formed the Preparatory Committee to Welcome the Nationalist Government (歡迎國民政府籌備會), delivering ROC flags to schools and offices, hanging patriotic banners and teaching locals to speak Mandarin and sing the national anthem. They also threw a joyous extravaganza in Taipei to celebrate Double Ten National Day for the first time.

UTTER DISAPPOINTMENT

After his return, Lin whole-heartedly devoted himself to paving the road for the KMT’s arrival, while avoiding taking on a leadership position in deference to Chen Yi and the incoming government. He also started eagerly learning Mandarin — quite a contrast from when he often refused to speak Japanese during colonial rule.

On Oct. 24, Lin headed to the airport to welcome Chen Yi, and made the opening speech the next day during Japan’s surrender ceremony in Taipei. A month later, he officially became a KMT member and was later chosen as one of 18 Taiwanese members of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly.

However, Chen Yi did not trust him or other Taiwanese leaders, and the KMT turned out no better than the Japanese. Lin wrote in his diary about food shortages caused by rice being sent to China to support the fight against the Chinese Communist Party. He was also dismayed by the government’s centralized and authoritarian rule. He had fought for years under Japanese rule for Taiwanese autonomy, and the KMT shut down his proposal for provincial autonomy.

He soon realized that Taiwanese were still treated as second-class citizens and that nothing had changed, and in his diary he slammed the lack of public order, the gross misconduct of KMT soldiers as well as Chen Yi’s incompetence.

In 1946, Chen Yi started a witch hunt in Taiwan for hanjian (漢奸), or “Han Chinese traitors,” who worked for the Japanese to oppress Chinese. Chen Hsin, Lin’s fellow delegate to Nanjing, was arrested as a hanjian for his alleged involvement in the 1945 independence attempt, and was detained for a month before being deemed innocent.

The people’s frustrations boiled over in February 1947, culminating in the 228 Incident, an anti-government uprising that was brutally suppressed. Chen Hsin, who was once so eager to welcome the KMT, was taken away by the police on March 11, never to be seen again.

Lin survived the incident and was even given a government position, but he had little authority. Utterly disillusioned, he tried to quit many times but his resignation was rejected each time.

Realizing that there was little place for him in Taiwan, Lin headed to Japan in September 23, 1949 under medical leave and refused all requests to return, dying in Tokyo in 1956.

Taiwan in Time, a column about Taiwan’s history that is published every Sunday, spotlights important or interesting events around the nation that have anniversaries this week.

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