Prawit denies servant for officer policy
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon denied on Tuesday accusations that the armed forces have a policy requiring conscripts to acts as personal servants of officers.
He was responding to a fresh controversy which has gone viral on social media.
The latest incident to cause outrage involves a conscript attached to the 2nd Infantry Battalion who complained in an 11-minute long video clip about being forced to work on a chicken farm owned by a superior officer.
The soldier said he had to take care of several birds and was forced to live in squalid conditions.
Asked to comment on calls for the scrapping of regulations allowing officers to use soldiers of lower ranks for their own personal benefit, Gen Prawit said no such rule or policy condoning such behaviour existed.
Messages shown by Mr Srisuwan seem to detail the daily schedule of a conscript at the home of a senior officer, with duties from 6am to 6pm including washing the family car and cleaning the home.
He said a committee had been established to look into the case.
Gen Prawit said an initial fact-finding probe found that the conscript had volunteered for duties assigned by the officer.
Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha avoided answering questions on the matter, saying he did not want to repeat what Gen Prawit had said.
On Tuesday, political activist Srisuwan Janya called on the Office of the Ombudsman, the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Human Rights Commission to look into the case.
Mr Srisuwan, head of a group calling itself the Thai Constitution Protection Association, said his organisation didn't believe an army pledge to investigate would lead to any serious action.
If the army was sincere about forming a fact-finding committee, it should have disclosed the names of its members, he said.
Mr Srisuwan claimed he has received a similar complaint from the family of Saksit Hemasing, a conscript at Sattahip naval base, who had been forced to work as a servant by a superior officer.
According to a complaint from the family, the conscript was forced to do housework -- including the laundry and cleaning the house -- and take the officer's children to and from school.
Mr Srisuwan questioned what he said appeared to be a policy to have conscripts work in officers' homes.
"I wonder whether these cases are something that Gen Prawit previously described as voluntary and temporary duties."
- Earlier report: Conscript complains of chicken farm duties