Voluntary conscription bill aborted

Voluntary conscription bill aborted

Young men are checked during the annual military draft at the Chatuchak unit in Bangkok in April 2019. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Young men are checked during the annual military draft at the Chatuchak unit in Bangkok in April 2019. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Move Forward Party has slammed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for aborting its military conscription bill by refusing to endorse it.

The bill, one of its electoral pledges, makes military drafting voluntary during peacetime.

List MP Rangsiman Rome told a briefing at Parliament on Monday that the House Secretariat informed him Gen Prayut had not endorsed the bill, which had been submitted by Lt Gen Pongsakorn Rodchompoo and other Future Forward MPs last year before the party was dissolved.

Section 133 of the constitution requires that any bill that involves finances or uses the state budget must first be endorsed by the prime minister before it can be debated in the House.

Mr Rangsiman said Gen Prayut had made clear on various occasions he did not agree with a voluntary draft.

“By not endorsing the bill, he abused the constitutional power given him to consider whether a bill will adversely affect the country’s fiscal position. Instead, he used it to satisfy his personal political agenda,” Mr Rangsiman said.

He also pointed out the problems involving Section 133, which allows the executive branch to interfere with the legislative branch from the start.

Since most bills use the state budget, a prime minister can stop a bill he doesn’t like even before it enters the House for a debate, making checks and balances impossible,” he said.

The bill aims to create professional armed forces that are smaller but more efficient. The number of recruits will be lower but they will be trained more intensively. The saved budget will then be used to pay them more and provide scholarships for their studies., he added.

People aged 18-40 may apply, compared the conscription age of 20. The training period will more than double to five years from two.

Recruits will have a career and may advance to the rank of lieutenant colonel before being decommissioned at 46.

A system is required to prevent violations of rights at barracks and soldiers may not be served for personal use, with some mechanisms in place to constantly check for violations.

Over the past six years, demand for conscripts by the armed forces was on the rise, from 94,480 in 2013 to 104,734 in 2019. Their monthly salaries are around 10,000 baht.

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