Fri, Feb 28, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Remembering 228: Lin Tai-cheng, 74, native of Pingtung County

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Liao Te-sung in 1931.

PHOTO COURTESY OF LIAO TE-SUNG

On Feb. 28, 1947, at 2:40pm, 18-year-old Lin Tai-cheng (林泰成) and his childhood buddy and next door neighbor, Huang Hai-tung (黃海棠), were on their way to the Kaohsiung train station to catch the 3:15pm service back to their hometown in Pingtung.

All of a sudden, they heard gun shots firing from a distance and the crowd began to panic.

"Let's go down to the underpass and hide there, quickly," Lin told his friend.

They and some 300 other people hid there until 12:15am when they heard the broadcast calling for south-bound passengers to board the train.

As they were waiting for the train to depart, the crowd panicked again because someone was hit by stray bullets.

Lin was also shot in his left leg.

At 5:10am, the train finally started to move. They reached their destination at 6am.

After they left, KMT troops attacked the underpass from both entrances and killed 300 people seeking shelter in the 100m tunnel.

"That was one of the closest calls of my life," Lin, now 74, said.

Lin, who relocated to Japan with his uncle at the age of three, came back to Taiwan in 1947 to help his father manage the family business of a sugar processing factory.

After the Feb. 28 incident, Lin had two more close calls that would changed his life forever.

On the afternoon of March 12, 1947, Lin and Huang traipsed to their campus to have a word with one of their teachers.

As they were about to leave, a truckload of armed soldiers jumped out of the vehicle and surrounded the campus. Lin and Huang as well as five other people were asked to line up for a frisk.

"You Taiwanese jackals have been working for Japanese pigs," shouted one of the soldiers.

When the soldier eventually failed to find any firearms or valuables on them, he walked behind the group and kicked each detainee in the legs and demanded that the detainees get on their knees.

"Let's have some fun," the soldier said and ordered other soldiers to assume the firing position.

As Lin prepared to die, another soldier ran toward them and stopped the intimidation.

"Dismiss your men and get your ass back to the camp," he said.

Although Lin escaped from the campus, some members of his family were arrested on March 18, 1947.

On a sweltering afternoon, Lin, his family and their house guest, Hsu Yo-fu (許有福), were taking an afternoon nap when Lin heard a noise downstairs.

He saw two truckloads of soldiers getting out of a vehicle.

"I knew they had come to get me and Hsu because he had signed our names to a petition during a peace gathering at a nearby park about two weeks before," Lin said.

While Lin managed to escaped and hid in the house of his next-door neighbor, his father and Hsu were taken away at gun point.

Before the soldiers left, they cracked open Lin's family safe and took away 130,000 old Taiwan dollars (about NT$230,000; NT dollars were introduced after the KMT removed the sweat of government to Taiwan), 10 gold nuggets, real estate contracts and other important papers.

They also drove to their nearby sugar processing plants to take away 60 tonnes of sugar, 30 tonnes of soybeans and 30 tonnes of fine salt.

Twelve days later, they managed to come up with 200,000 old Taiwan dollars to bail out his father.

"He was so severely tortured while he was in detention that his health was seriously damaged," Lin said.

After they lost the valuables, their house was occupied by the KMT government. Lin, his parents and his grandmother were forced to move to a temporary dwelling they made out of bamboo branches near a cemetery.

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