A PRIVATE who mustered the courage to speak up against his superior at a military camp has found a way out of abusive treatment and an unreasonable assignment to tend to nearly 100 chicken and fighting cocks of a senior military officer.
After posting an 11-minute video clip on his Facebook about his assignment and complaining about being slapped, this private said on Facebook: “What will be, will be”, in anticipation of consequences arising from his complaint. But Army chief General Chalermchai Sittisart, who was alerted to the case, has made sure the private has returned to his original unit without suffering any repercussions.
“The only person to have a problem is the one who got him to do such a mission,” said the General.
He emphasised that Senior Army officials needed to seek permission from their superiors before they could use soldiers for personal matters.
Chalermchai said each unit’s commander has the discretion to decide whether it is appropriate and necessary to use soldiers for personal tasks.
Senior officers were expected to know what is and is not appropriate or acceptable in the modern world and social context, he said.
Chalermchai’s comment follows the release of the video clip, showing an unnamed private complaining about having been assigned to raise a superior’s 100 chickens and fighting cocks.
The private alleges that after he was drafted to serve at the Thanarat Infantry Camp in Prachuap Khiri Khan, he had to live in unhygienic conditions while raising the chickens.
If he failed to meet the unidentified superior’s expectations, he faced a rude scolding and face slapping, the private said in the video.
Chalermchai said he was waiting for the official results from a fact-finding probe. Disciplinary action would follow if the probe found that inappropriate behaviour had taken place, he added.
“Don’t assume this will affect the whole force’s image. What is done by an individual is an individual's matter,” Chalermchai said.
Assignments to help on public or private tasks must be appropriate and in line with the unit’s existing manpower [so the main missions are unaffected], while the assigned soldiers must be briefed about it beforehand, he added.
Srisuwan Janya, the secretary-general of the Association to Protect the Thai Constitution, said in a statement that he would file a complaint on the issue today with the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Commission.
Srisuwan said he wanted to see concrete solutions to prevent the abuse of any more subordinates by officers.
Asked about the pending complaint, Chalermchai said it was within Srisuwan’s right to proceed.
Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree had initially said that the private had volunteered to do a favour for the officer.
On Sunday, however, he said that a fact-finding probe had found grounds suggesting that there had been an inappropriate task assignment. The unit was considering disciplinary action against the officer in question, while the private was moved back to his original unit without being punished, Winthai said. Anti-corruption activist Veera Somkwamkid, meanwhile, posted to his Facebook page that there was no law to support military officers forcing privates to do labour at their homes.
Veera urged the Army to punish the officer, warning that Winthai’s “favour doing” comment might be a criminal offence involving covering up another person’s wrongdoing.
He also urged the Defence Minister to review the actions of the army chief and the private’s supervisor to ensure there is no attempt to cover up the officer’s wrongdoing.