The Thai junta’s cabinet gave the green light to a bill to establish a Military Reserve Force (MRF) Committee in order to tighten up calls for military service and set out criminal penalties for employers who refuse to pay their workers serving in the military.
The cabinet on Monday, 7 July 2015, approved the Military Reserve Force Bill to form a ‘Military Reserve Force Committee’, which will have the authority to summon Thai males trained as ‘Nak Sueksa Wicha Thahan’, or Military Reserve Force, for additional training and military service if needed.
The bill was proposed by the Defence Ministry and has already been considered by the Council of State. It will be sent to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for further deliberation.
Thailand has compulsory military service which applies to all male citizens who have turned 21 years old. Some volunteer to serve in their country’s armed forces and others are subjected to a random draft lottery. Choosing a red cards leads to military service whereas those choosing black cards are exempt.
However, male youths who do not want to try their luck in the draft lottery or volunteer for the armed forces can choose to participate in MRF training, which requires them to take part in 20 weeks of training annually during their high-school years. The students are automatically classified as MRF after they finish the training.
According to the draft bill, the MRF Committee will be headed by the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister. It will dictate all policies regarding the conditions and regulations of the MRF, such as the call to service and length of service, including penalties for those who ignore calls to serve the military.
The MRF Bill will include criminal offences similar to those in Article 146 of the 1998 Labour Protection Act regarding employers who deny payment to their male employees while they have to serve in the military.
The bill will also dictate MRF service payments and all public services provided to MRF personnel.
According to the bill, the Secretariat of the Defence Ministry will also serve as the MRF Committee's Secretariat.