Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus deputy secretary-general Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) yesterday defended the Control Yuan’s decision to censure the Ministry of National Defense (MND) over the defection of former army captain Justin Lin (林毅夫), and dismissed speculation that the top government watchdog was paving the way for Lin’s return to Taiwan.
The Control Yuan on Thursday chastised the ministry for “taking no action” and improperly handling the case involving Lin, who defected to China in 1979 when he was serving as an army captain on Taiwan’s frontline island of Kinmen. He has since become a renowned economist and is currently a senior vice president of World Bank.
The Control Yuan said the ministry 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, it did nothing at the time and first put 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, urging the ministry to decide within two months how to deal with other cases of defections to China.
Lu yesterday said it was necessary for the Control Yuan to censure the MND since it did not issue a warrant of arrest for Lin until years after his defection.
“I also suggested to the MND that it deliberate over [how to deal with similar cases] even if it needed to amend relevant laws,” Lu said. “But this had nothing to do with Lin’s plan to return to Taiwan.”
Lin became a World Bank senior vice president in June last year after serving for 15 years as a professor at Peking University’s China Center for Economic Research, which he founded.
He has admitted in many television interviews that he swam across the channel separating Kinmen and Xiamen in China’s Fujian Province on May 16, 1979, to seek a new life and new career.
In May 2002, he filed an application from Beijing to return to Taiwan to attend his father’s funeral. Taiwan authorities approved his application but warned that he could face the legal consequences of his defection if he returned, which made him decide not to attend the funeral.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus interpreted the Control Yuan’s move to censure the MND as paving the way for Lin to return to Taiwan.
Lin said in April that he wanted to return to Taiwan to make offerings to his deceased parents and ancestors.
DPP caucus whip Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) said yesterday the MND should never give Lin any privileges, regardless of his status now as a renowned international economist.
If the MND were to lift the warrants for Lin’s arrest, the ministry should do the same for others who defected to China during the martial law era, he added.
MND spokesman Yu Sy-tue (虞思祖) yesterday said the ministry will make a formal response to the Control Yuan after receiving a letter of censure.
The ministry will not allow a traitor to undermine the core values of the armed forces, he added.
“Our loyalty to the nation remains resolute,” Yu said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JIMMY CHUANG