Mon, Jun 23, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Super cop shines as new commissioner

THE BIG PROMOTION Having captured the nation's attention during his role as the top negotiator in the Chen Chin-hsing hostage crisis, Hou You-yi is moving on

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hu was the first gangster and murderer in Taiwan who possessed a bachelor's degree. When the police trapped him in Hsintien and tried to arrest him, Hou was the officer who tackled him and handcuffed him in person, while Hu was fully armed.

According to the police's file records, Hu refused to cooperate with investigators after he was arrested.

In addition, officers were eager to find a rifle, which was believed to have been used by Hu to murder two military guards in Hsinchu.

To make Hu talk, Hou visited Hu at the Taipei Detention House every day, and finally persuaded him that he should have told the truth and the rifle's whereabouts. Six months later, the police found the evidence at a location in the middle of nowhere in Hsintien after Hu pointed it out to the authorities.

Hu told judges that Hou was the only officer he wanted to confess to because Hou made him feel guilty about what he had done and he believed that Hou was indeed trying to help him face his own sins bravely. So he decided to locate the rifle and confess to the crimes he committed.

Although Hou is a super cop, his son's death on May 15, 1992 made him think about leaving the force.

Hou's son, Michael, died in a minor traffic accident that later caused the bus he was riding on caught fire. The bus fire claimed 23 lives. Of the 23, 20 were kindergarten kids. Michael was one of them.

Hou once said that he would do whatever it took to bring Michael back. He seriously thought about his career and questioned whether he should stay on the force.

"I spent most of my life protecting Taiwanese citizens but I could not do anything about my son's death," he said.

His then-supervisors, Taipei City Police Department Commissioner Yen Shih-hsi (顏世錫) and CIC chief Chang You-wen (張友文) encouraged him to continue his job and that was why Hou is still on the force today.

Hou and his wife had another baby boy the next year. Their second son was born on May 14, one day earlier than the anniversary of their first son's death.

"My first son's death struck me hard. However, God gave me another son and it seemed to be a sign to encourage me to go on," Hou said.

The 1997 hostage crisis at McGill Alexander's Tienmu residence was the case that made Hou a national hero.

Alexander was South Africa's military's attache to Taiwan at the time. On Nov. 18, 1997, Alexander drove home around 6pm. However, Chen Chin-hsing (陳進興), Taiwan's most notorious criminal -- who abducted and murdered TV entertainer Pai Ping-ping's (白冰冰) 17-year-old daughter Pai Hsiao-yen (白曉燕) in the same year -- followed him into the house. Wielding three pistols, Chen secured Alexander, his wife, two daughters and adopted infant son then waited for the police to zero in. Both the police and the media flocked to the scene in droves.

Hou tried to build up a "mutual understanding" with Chen by introducing himself by name and rank when he arrived at the scene.

"I was trying to talk him down," said Hou. "But this man was too crazy to be persuaded. I had to communicate with him in the way he preferred." In Chen's frenzied spray of bullets, Alexander and his daughter Melanie were wounded.

Chen asked Hou to send nurses and doctors inside the house for the wounded hostages. Hou told him that nobody could come into the house because he was a dangerous man. Chen then asked Hou to walk in alone without weapons.

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