Elected as a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator at the relatively young age of 30, former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) appeared to have everything going as planned in his prosperous political career.
Under the guidance of three KMT chairmen over the past decade, his smooth climb up the political ladder had been the envy of many who saw him easily securing key government and party positions in a trajectory from the party’s youngest deputy caucus whip to a senior official at the Executive Yuan.
However, the once successful politician and protege of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has found himself a detainee and pariah after being dragged down by bribery allegations — to which he was said to have partially confessed to during a marathon 12-hour interview with the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division on Sunday.
Forty-four-year-old Lin is the first high-ranking administration official to be detained on graft allegations since Ma was first elected president.
A graduate of Taipei Medical University, where he studied in the dental-history department, Lin Yi-shih was born in Kaohsiung to a politician father, Lin Hsien-pao (林仙保), who is head of the “Red” faction in the Kaohsiung political arena.
Lin Hsien-pao not only served as a Kaohsiung county councilor, but was repeatedly elected as a councilor in the now-defunct Taiwan Provincial Assembly.
Lin Yi-shih entered politics in 1998, when he was first nominated by the KMT to run for the fourth term of the legislature and won a landslide victory, followed by three successful bids for re-election.
In 2002, when the party was led by then-chairman Lien Chan (連戰), Lin Yi-shih was elected the party’s deputy caucus whip at 34 — the youngest in KMT history.
In August that year, Lin Yi-shih won another election within the KMT and once again set a record by becoming the youngest Central Standing Committee member, earning him direct access to the party’s top decisionmaking body.
At the end of 2005, Lin Yi-shih secured his party’s nomination in the former Kaohsiung County against the then-Kaohsiung county commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), who was seeking re-election.
Although Lin Yi-shih lost by a substantial 110,000 votes, his willingness and bravery in running in a traditionally Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stronghold won him applause from then KMT chairman Ma.
As one of Ma’s trusted aides, Lin Yi-shih triumphed over former KMT lawmaker Justin Chou (周守訓) in March 2006 in a battle to head the KMT Youth League — a group established by Ma in that year to craft a youthful image for the party — and to double as the party’s vice chairman. The victory made Lin Yi-shih the youngest deputy head of the KMT.
In 2008, Lin Yi-shih took his career to the next level in the wake of the seventh legislative election in January, during which the KMT secured 81 seats in the 113-seat legislature.
At the time, then-KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) appointed Lin Yi-shih to replace his predecessor Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), who was promoted to deputy legislative speaker, as the executive director of the party’s Policy Coordination Committee. The personnel reshuffle saw Lin Yi-shih become the KMT’s youngest caucus whip at age 40.
Prior to this year’s legislative elections, Ma had planned to put Lin Yi-shih, who was seeking a fifth term, in the deputy speaker post — a move that was reportedly designed to prepare him to succeed Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who also hails from Kaohsiung.