The Control Yuan yesterday passed a motion to censure the Ministry of National Defense (MND) over its handling of a case involving former army captain Justin Lin (林毅夫), who defected to China in 1979.
The motion, proposed by Control Yuan members Yeh Yao-peng (葉耀鵬) and Chao Chang-ping (趙昌平), said the ministry had not taken action after Lin defected to China.
The Control Yuan said the MND could have tried Lin in absentia — who would have received the death penalty in accordance with martial law, which was in effect at the time — and issued a warrant for his arrest that would have been effective for 20 years.
Instead, the MND did nothing, first putting him on the wanted list in 2002 after someone took the matter to the judiciary. By that time, the case could no longer be prosecuted, the Control Yuan said.
Lin, who served as a captain in Kinmen, defected to China on May 16, 1979, allegedly swimming to Fujian Province.
He rose to become a top economic strategist for China and in February last year became the World Bank’s chief economist.
“The MND has been reserved and passive instead of seeking to act in such cases,” the Control Yuan said, adding that the MND’s handling of Lin’s case had damaged the military’s reputation.
The Control Yuan urged the MND to decide within two months how to deal with other cases of defections to China.
Lin’s defection occurred while he was on duty.
He has since said he swam to China because he was inspired by then-president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) and wanted to improve the lives of the Chinese.
In 2002, then-minister of national defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) condemned Lin, saying his betrayal was inexcusable.
In a report Tang delivered at the legislature, he called Lin a traitor and said he should be brought to justice if he ever returned to Taiwan.
ADDITIONAL REPORITING BY STAFF WRITER