teenagers now learn about the island's history
at school, and because of this change to the
school curriculum, there has been a search
for Taiwanese heroes. In today's junior high
school textbooks, students read that Lin Shao-mao
fought against Japanese rule between 1895 and
1902.Lin remains a controversial figure. Now
hailed as a hero, he was of course deemed a "bandit" by
the Japanese colonial authorities.
Born in 1866, Lin Shao-mao lived in A-hou (now
Pingtung City), where he was a rice miller.
Lin, who also sold fish and pork in the markets,
rose to have much power in A-hou.
Lin later became a petty government official,
but abused his position. Accused of corruption,
he returned to A-hou as an outlaw, and led
his followers to settle at Talun, a fertile
islet on the Kaoping River. The outlaws robbed
nearby villages, stealing not only livestock
but also women.
Then, in the wake of the Sino-Japanese War,
China ceded Taiwan to Japan in April 1895.
A Taiwan Republic was declared on 23 May 1895.
The presidency of the republic fell on Liu
Yung-fu. Lin Shao-mao backed Liu, who in turn
provided weapons.In late 1895, Liu departed
to the mainland, dashing hopes of a Taiwan
Republic. But resistance by Taiwanese continued:
Lin Shao-mao regrouped his men, and in June
1896 almost seized A-hou. Lin trained his men
well, and held a huge advantage in his knowledge
of the local terrain. His three main bases
at Talun, Tatung Farm and Houpilin were carefully
chosen. Talun lay among the channels of the
Kaoping River, with access along twisting paths
across the streams. The Tatung Farm base lay
in a neck of land at the confluence of two
rivers. The largest base, at Houpilin, overlooked
Fengshan to the north, and Dunggang to the
Throughout 1897, Lin launched daring attacks
from these bases, usually with a few hundred
men, on the Japanese occupiers. An attack on
A-hou in 1898 failed, but Lin's men forced
Japanese reinforcements to flee into the mountains.
Back at Tatung Farm, Lin assembled a force
of over 2,000 men, including 700 Paiwan aborigines.
On December 28, 1898, Lin attacked Chaojou,
where his men overwhelned the Japanese forces
and beheaded the top Japanese official.
The rebels moved south to Hengchun, but failed
to take the town. After a stiff fight, the
rebels fled. The Japanese massacred more than
2,000 people, but the now heroic Lin Shao-mao
evaded death or capture.
Shinpei, the Japanese governor of Taiwan, offered
surrender terms to "bandits" as
early as July 1898, but was rebuffed. Surrender
terms agreed on 12 November 1899 gave Lin the
right to rule over a tax-free fiefdom at Houpilin.
His men were free to carry arms, and were indemnified
against lawsuits arising from the partisan
The surrender ceremony was held at A-hou on
12 May 1900. The only conditions the Japanese
asked were that the rebels forswear banditry,
that all arms be marked and recorded, and that
all be photographed and have their names recorded.
the surrender, Lin and his men farmed, fished
and made wine at Houpilin. Rumors persisted
that the "bandits" had kept a base
at Talun, and by May 1902 Japanese patience
was exhausted. Lin's followers were ordered
to assemble at six points in the south on 26
May 1902, where they were gunned down.
Japanese next came after Lin Shao-mao, alleging
his community "was spreading
disease." On 30 May, Japanese soldiers
equipped with mortars attacked Lin's stronghold
at Houpilin. After four hours the base was
in flames; as Japanese forces began to enter
the compound, Lin attempted to flee from the
front gate. He was shot dead.
Japanese authorities declare an official end
to the "bandit" problem. But
a century on, the legend of Lin Shao-mao has
entered Taiwan's school textbooks.
The author would like to thank Lee Ming-chin
for his kind help.