Thai Sang Thai: Scrap conscription
Sudarat-led party proposes voluntary enlistment and better military welfare
published : 22 Mar 2023 at 21:10
writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth
Conscription should be abolished in favour of a full voluntary enlistment programme and better military welfare, says the Thai Sang Thai Party (TST).
Modern armed forces must work to lift the quality of life of their personnel, particularly the rank and file, so that they can serve the country to their full ability and with pride, said Sqn Ldr Sita Divari, the party’s secretary-general.
The party led by veteran politician Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan supports the abolition of compulsory enlistment via the lot-drawing method.
Sqn Ldr Sita, a former air force fighter jet pilot, said voluntary enlistment should be widened to the fullest extent.
Each year, he said, the cost of running the conscription programme and looking after conscripts is about 16 billion baht, or 12,000 baht per conscript per month on average.
While conscripts are essential for the military to function, there are too many of them, he said.
Those recruited annually via compulsory enlistment number around 50,000. A similar number come through voluntary recruitment.
“Because of the excessive number of recruits, we have witnessed abuses of the system whereby some conscripts are sent to work as domestic helpers at senior officers’ homes, for example,” Sqn Ldr Sita said.
He said compulsory enlistment deprives people of their freedom for two years as well as the opportunity to earn an income, which in many cases is vital for sustaining a family.
The military should downsize the number of conscripts, which would also ease pressure on its budget, he said. Those savings could then be used to improve the welfare offered to voluntary recruits, which would make enlistment more appealing, he added.
The Thai armed forces currently consist of about 360,000 personnel, 245,000 of whom are in the army.
- Thai Sang Thai
- Sudarat Keyuraphan