A former member of the parliament (MP) from the Democrat Party says that more than half of Thailand’s military conscripts end up as servants for high-ranking military officers.
On 4 April 2017, Wilat Chantarapitak, a former Democrat Party MP and former advisor to a parliamentary anti-corruption committee, told the media that the military conscription system in Thailand is in crisis.
Wilat said mandatory military conscription is still necessary for national defence. However, it is riddled with corruption because more than half of the conscripts end up as servants in the houses of senior officers or in military cooperative shops.
In reality, most of the drafted soldiers receive only 3-6 months of training before being dispatched to the houses of senior officers with the rank of colonel upwards to clean their homes or walk their dogs.
It is a form of corruption which damages the nation because most draftees ended up having no skills necessary for national defence, adding that it also affects how the Defence Ministry sets the budget for military training.
“We have to ask how military officers are different from other professions. Other professions have superiors as well, but they do not seem to need people to take care of them. Are [high-ranking] military officers some sort of deities?” Matichon Online quoted Wilat as saying.
Under the current law, it is mandatory for every Thai man, once they reach 21 years of age to serve in the military. High school students have the option to enrol in the three-year Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) during grades 10-12 while the rest can volunteer for the forces or try their luck with the red or black cards at the annual draft.
Those who draw red cards are conscripted for the branch indicated on the cards.
According to the military, 103,097 men across the nation will go through the 2017 draft between 1-12 April. However, the armed forces need only 76,953 conscripts.