Former presidential adviser Lin Yang-kang (林洋港), a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweight who faded from the political scene after losing the nation’s first direct presidential election in 1996 to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), died on Saturday midnight of intestinal obstruction and organ failure. He was 87.
Lin, also known as Uncle A-Kang (阿港伯), was one of the so-called “Taiwanese youths” cultivated by the KMT to consolidate grassroots support. He had served as Nantou County commissioner, Taipei mayor, chairman of Taiwan Province, minister of the interior and head of the Judicial Yuan, and was once seen as the likely successor to former president Chiang Ching-kou (蔣經國).
Chiang instead picked Lee as his vice president, which sparked a power struggle between Lin and Lee. In the 1996 presidential election, Lin violated KMT regulations and paired up with former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) to compete against Lee and former vice president Lien Chan (連戰). The Lin-Hau ticket lost the election and Lin’s party membership was revoked for years until the KMT restored it in 2005.
Lin left politics after retiring from his post as an adviser to the Presidential Office in 2006, and went to live in Greater Taichung with his family.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday expressed his condolences to Lin’s family and praised Lin’s life-long dedication and achievements, including the decision to build the Taipei Feitsui Reservoir in 1978 amid concerns about the reservoir’s possible threat to local residents’ safety if it were destroyed in a natural disaster.
“His vision allowed people in the Greater Taipei area to enjoy clean and cheap drinking water for the past 20 years. It was a very wise decision,” Ma said in a written statement.
Ma also expressed his gratitude for Lin’s advice, saying he had often discussed judicial matters with Lin when serving as minister of justice. Lin, then the minister of the Judicial Yuan, helped facilitate cooperation between the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice.
KMT heavyweights, including Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), son of Hau Pei-tsun, also expressed regret over Lin’s death.
Wang described Lin as a respectful politician who made great achievements, and said politicians in future generations should learn from his dedication to Taiwan’s development.
Hau Lung-bin thanked Lin for building the Feitsui Reservoir for Taipei, saying it prevented a shortage of drinking water for Greater Taipei residents.