Thu, May 30, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Defector wants to come home to attend funeral

ANNOUNCEMENTA prominent academic in China has come forward to say that he is a former model army officer who defected in 1979 and is asking for permission to return to Taiwan so he can attend his father's funeral

By Lin Miao-Jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

A prominent adviser to Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基) who claims to be former Taiwanese army officer Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), who defected to China 23 years ago, wants to come to Taiwan to attend his father's funeral on June 4, a member of Lin's family said yesterday.

The man, known in China as Justin Lin (林毅夫), an economics professor at China's Beijing University, who also advises the World Bank, is thought to have defected to China in 1979 by swimming the 2.3km from the outlying island of Kinmen to the Chinese coast.

Accompanied by DPP lawmaker Chen Chin-teh (陳金德), Lin's older brother Lin Wan-sung (林萬松) called on the government at a news conference yesterday to "let my little brother come home."

Although the former army commander is widely seen as a traitor, another DPP lawmaker, Trong Chai (蔡同榮), called on the government to throw out its "political black list" and allow Lin to attend the funeral.

Under current regulations, Chinese nationals may apply for an entry permit to visit Taiwan to attend the funerals of family members.

Vice Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration Fan Te-chu (范德助) said that Lin may submit an application, which the bureau will deal with "in accordance with current regulations."

He added that Lin's relatives have not yet requested an entry permit for Lin.

Any decision on such an application, however, would involve a number of government ministries, and the Mainland Affairs Council's (MAC's) input would be crucial.

MAC Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said yesterday, "We are still considering whether or not we would approve the application, but we would first have to establish whether Lin committed a crime."

But he said that the government would certainly consider the case out of "humanitarian considerations."

The law obliges the government to consider every application.

Chen said the case was complex and that the MAC will seek legal advice on the matter before making a decision.

Chen made the remarks yesterday while answering questions from lawmakers.

Lin Cheng-yi is widely believed to have defected to China but has always been listed by the military as "missing," allegedly to hide the truth.

Lin had been held up in KMT government propaganda in the mid-1970s as a model patriot for giving up an opportunity to go to university in order to join the army.

Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) said yesterday that the Statute of Limitations requires that prosecutions for treason be carried out within 20 years of the alleged offense and that prosecutors will act in accordance with the law.

But when pressed by reporters if that meant Lin would be free from prosecution, Chen refused to make such a guarantee.

Under current law, treason is punishable by a minimum prison term of 10 years.

The maximum penalty is death.

Vice Minister of Defense Chen Chao-ming (陳肇敏) said yesterday that if the ministry of defense satisfied itself that Justin Yi-fu Lin is indeed Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), "the ministry will deal with the matter in accordance with the due process of law."

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