Sunday, May 01, 2011

Navy captain leaves lasting legacy after untimely death

Taiwan lost a true patriot last week, a man of integrity who made substantial contributions to Taiwanese security and diplomacy over the years. His departure is also a great loss to reporters, towards whom he often extended unusual generosity

Winston Li (李豫明), who passed away on Monday of heart complications, may have been little known to the public, but behind the scenes this implacable force of nature made several contributions to Taiwan’s security over the years — contributions that will linger on well after his premature exit.

Born in Taiwan on June 29, 1958, Li graduated from the Republic of China (ROC) Naval Academy in 1981 and received a master’s degree in acoustics from the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, in 1987.

After serving in various assignments in the ROC Navy, Li was posted to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington as deputy naval attache in 1997.

He returned to Taiwan in 2000 and, prior to his retirement from the navy, worked as a section chief at N-5 (a section now known as the Integrated Planning Section) and later served as deputy director of planning at N-5 and director of intelligence at N-2.

Since 2009, Li had served as a legislative aide to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Herman Shuai (帥化民), who is a member of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

Following his death, a number of officials, reporters and academics who worked with Li over the years — including Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) — paid tribute to his many contributions to the nation. Some of them shared their reminiscences with the Taipei Times.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

[This part was cut from the print version] For reporters covering defense issues, Li’s passing is also a great loss, especially under an administration that in recent years has proven less than generous with information. Not only did he have superb connections and was generous with what he shared with reporters, but he also never hesitated to tell them off when they were wasting their — and his — time following dead-end leads.

The sheer succinctness of his last-ever answer to me, a few days before his untimely death, was testimony of that unwavering, no-nonsense professionalism.

“Routine task, no further comment.”

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