Inside Taiwan’s Purgatory
Taiwan Civil Government, founded in 2008, is the most controversial, misunderstood, and maligned advocacy group operating in Taiwan these days. TCG is also perhaps the most successful Taiwanese pro-independence organization around that parades, files lawsuits, and hires publicity campaigns for the cause.
Founder Roger Lin is an enigmatic, charismatic leader that keeps tight control over what has been structured as a government in-waiting. Lin and others are facing political fraud charges for allegedly duping group members with false claims, particularly about the TCG identification card.
The noisy pro-American group has large portrait photographs of Donald Trump in each of its offices. Members wave the American flag like it was the Fourth of July. Those that speak English talk endlessly about the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty. However, make no mistake about it, these folks are revolutionaries. Fortunately, TCG seeks only a peaceful revolution…but a revolution it does seek. TCG wants to repel the exiled Republic of China from Taiwan.
Taiwan Civil Government is largely shunned by the Taiwan independence movement, ignored by the news media, and under surveillance by ROC police units. Common insults are that TCG is a cult, that it is crime ring, and that members are mentally deficient or politically naive. All such slurs and insults are false.
Roger Lin, beloved by TCG members, has a long list of shattered relationships with other like-minded activists. Invariably, they all split over money. The former friends have no doubt been the source of some, maybe many, of the rumors of alleged financial misdeeds. In turn, ROC prosecutors have grabbed at complaints from disgruntled TCG members and titleholders in an attempt to build a fraud case. Now Lin is billed as a criminal mastermind operating a sophisticated swindle. A clever way to sideline a growing political threat, the fraud allegations upset a cabinet-level meeting at the Heritage Foundation in Washington with a TCG delegation and put Roger Lin incommunicado for five months. The unfavorable publicity from allegedly being part of a scam operation also harmed the group’s credibility with the public.
In any event, Roger Lin says he is innocent and that he never took any money from anyone under misrepresentation. Lin demands that the prosecutors show the evidence and call its witnesses so he can refute them. With that posture, the presumption of innocence, the age-old standard of “innocent until proven guilty,”applies here.
The cult insults apparently arise from the group’s uniform of a black suit and a TCG lapel pin. The lock-step precision of TCG parades also gives a vision of a brainwashed cadre following Roger Lin’s marching orders. However, there is nothing cult-like about TCG. The group more closely resembles an ethnic social club with a political agenda. TCG believes and practices religious tolerance, respecting different belief systems of members.
When asked about the black suits, Julian Lin said it made it easy for everyone to know what to wear. The black suits also made it easiest for members to assemble the uniform as black was a common clothing color. The uniform the group members shared in common instilled an egalitarian view and allowed wealthy and poor to march together, shoulder to shoulder, for a shared vision of Taiwan’s future.
Are the members of Taiwan Civil Government politically naive or cognitively-impaired? Not smart enough to understand they have been hoodwinked? Clueless? Easy insults thrown out for a quick laugh do not succeed in slandering TCG loyalists. Members of the beleaguered group come from a wide spectrum of the population and arrive with political interests. Weekend courses on treaty language, history, and political science are held and are a requirement for membership. Dorm facilities at TCG headquarters sleep 500 persons. People who can discuss subtle details of international treaties are not generally viewed as mentally impaired.
The insults do not pan out. The prosecutors, as we will soon see, have built a case around false victim accounts. We will also learn about media manipulation by the prosecution and inflammatory news reports without follow-up.
The May 10, 2018, arrests of Roger and Julian Lin derailed TCG progress in the hallways of power in Washington. However, the arrests did not break TCG spirits. Instead, the group, locally structured in each state, was able to push forward with training and education. New recruits kept showing up despite the arrests. Roger Lin says the group “unified” by the arrests understood the battle for Taiwan was underway.
Despite the fraud allegations TCG marchers parade, show up in mass at every court session, and donate money to keep operations underway. TCG leaders are currently focused on the best way to influence the United States and Japan to end the strategic ambiguity and make some strategic moves for the future of Taiwan. Taiwan Civil Government is here to stay and is not going away.
Up next, meet the Prime Minister of Taiwan Civil Government