Roger Lin, died November 6, 2019, after a long battle with cancer, Lin passed without the opportunity to clear his name of fraud charges leveled against him by prosecutors of the Republic of China in-exile. Lin spent the last two decades of his life working non-stop to rid Taiwan of the ROC and was arrested in May 2018 in a dramatic police raid accused of being a criminal mastermind.
The enigmatic founder of Taiwan Civil Government will forever remain a mystery, labeled a con man by the exiled Chinese government he sought to remove from Taiwan or a non-violent revolutionary driven by patriotism for a nation not yet born. Lin was a man who believed in the rule of law although he recognized that law was made by politics.
Although Roger Lin lost two important federal lawsuits over politics, Roger Lin v. United States, which sought American passports for Taiwanese, and Roger & Julian Lin vs. Republic of China & United States, which sought to nullify the ROC Nationality Act which stripped island residents of their Japanese nationality, the two cases have important precedential value . In the passport case the United States Appellate Court of the District of Columbia coined the phrase “political purgatory” and urged President Barack Obama to act to resolve Taiwan’s stateless status.
For the past decade Lin has worked night and day to build Taiwan Civil Government as a shadow government following many organizational steps used by civil affairs officers in the American military. Lin has courted the American Institute in Taiwan, the defacto United States embassy, and waged a vigorous effort to gain influence with President Donald Trump.
ROC sleuths have been investigating Roger Lin since at least 2009 when Lin was interrogated along with Chen Shui-bian for treason. Former ROC President Chen Shui-bian, in a little known legal maneuver during his prosecution for purported corruption, had sought the protection of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. In an affidavit filed in Chen’s appeal he stated that as president he had followed directions from the United States. Lin arranged financing from the Formosa Nation Legal Strategy Association for the appeal which was dismissed. Treason charges were not pursued after both men were interrogated by ROC prosecutors.
In May 2018, within days of an announced reception with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross came raids of TCG and the arrests of Lin and others. The new charges were not treason but fraud accusations for supposedly deceiving TCG members about the benefits of the group identity card and vanity license plates. Media manipulation was part of the operation with favorite media outlets tipped by police or prosecutors. A fictitious photo was circulated in the media of cash that was seized from the home of Roger and Julian Lin.
The big media hoopla for the next 24 hours was about an alleged huge Ponzi scheme, an unprecedented criminal scam, political fraud in a big way, etc. Then the story disappeared from the news media. The same television crews that waited to watch the Lins hauled to jail failed to follow the story. Lin was demonized in the media before he even had a chance to tell his side. Court developments go unreported by the same reporters that “broke” the story. The court developments consist of an endless series of hearings and adjournments, as the prosecutors drag out their case over long months. Roger Lin never got his chance to put on a defense in the non-jury trial.
A legal researcher, Lin authored over a dozen books, and lectured extensively on the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Lin believed the 1952 peace treaty that ended World War II in the Pacific controlled the fate of Taiwan, or Formosa as the island was then called. Lin was convinced that neither of the two “one China” claimants, the Peoples Republic of China and the Republic of China in-exile, had any business deciding Taiwan’s fate. Lin believed control of the 1945 Japanese territory belongs jointly to the Emperor of Japan and the United States as the post-war occupying power under international law.
Roger Lin has probably done more than any other single individual to resolve the “strategic ambiguity” that has surrounded Taiwan’s status for seven decades. Yet in the midst of TCG parades, expensive lobbying campaigns and hefty legal bills Lin is accused of cheating his own group members with false claims. However, many of Lin’s supposed victims have come forward and denied their victim status and continue to support the man who allegedly lied to them.
A charismatic leader and fiery orator, Lin built a loyal following of willing donors and volunteers. Lin’s absence will create new challenges for the embattled group he founded. The organization has shown a remarkable resiliency and staying power in the face of the fraud arrests and destruction of the TCG headquarters in July 2019. A true measure of Lin’s accomplishment will be the future of Taiwan Civil Government and whether the group has enough of what it takes to carry on the battle against the Republic of China in-exile.