FFP renews reform push after Korat carnage

FFP renews reform push after Korat carnage

Party plans talk on Saturday about army overhaul; Apirat wants speedy investigation

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit says he is not seeking
Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit says he is not seeking "political gain" by staging a public meeting about how to reform the armed forces. (File photo)

The Future Forward Party (FFP) is drumming up public support for its renewed call to push for military reforms in the wake of last Saturday’s mass shooting in Nakhon Ratchasima, which was reportedly motivated by “unfairness”.

Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said on Friday that an event called “From Korat to armed forces reform” will be held from 4.30pm on Saturday at the Oct 14, 1973 memorial on Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

Mr Thanathorn rejected claims that he and his party were using the tragedy as a tool to attack the army with the aim of gaining political benefits.

“This event is not for our political gain or to attack the armed forces,” he said. “We simply want to urge dialogue on how to protect the rights of low-ranking soldiers and ensure fairness,” he said.

At Saturday’s forum, Lt Col Phongsakon Rotchomphu and Wirot Lakkhana-adison, both FFP list MPs, will pinpoint elements in the structure of the army that cause unfairness and may have contributes to last weekend’s violence, Mr Thanathorn said.

The soldier who murdered 29 people in Korat was reported to have been angry about being cheated out of money in a land deal brokered by relatives of his superior. The reports shone a light on the many side businesses in which army officers engage, and the ways in which senior officers are said to take advantage of their subordinates.

Other activist groups have also come forward to say that now is an opportune time to look into aspects of military life and behaviour that need to be changed.

In another development, army commander Apirat Kongsompong ordered 2nd Army commander Lt Gen Thanya Kiattisan to conduct a “straightforward” and speedy investigation into the shooting, said a source who asked not to be identified.

Two other working teams have been told to look into soldiers’ welfare provisions and businesses run within the barracks as well as take action against any personnel found to be involved in dishonest deals, the source added.

Maj Gen Rachit Arunrangsi, chief of the Army Welfare Department, and Lt Gen Ayut Siwiset, chief of the Directorate of Personnel, are in charge of the two panels.

The army chief has also threatened to suspend any business-oriented army projects that are found to have irregularities, the source said. Gen Apirat has been given a report on about 40 businesses that will be scrutinised.

A call centre will also be set up to receive complaints about unfairness from low-ranking officers, the source added.

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