Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday defended Thailand’s current conscription system, which he said needed to be in place as the Kingdom “needs soldiers in times of crisis”.
“What are we going to do without soldiers?” Prayut said during his weekly press briefing. “We’re open for voluntary application and if we don’t acquire sufficient numbers of cadets, we have to obtain them via drafting. It’s just as natural as that.
“They also become more disciplined after quitting the service, because they go through training,” the retired general added.
The debate over the necessity for conscription in Thailand, which has not seen any major military threats since the end of the Cold War, has been discussed over a number of years, especially in regard to cases of maltreatment of cadets.
Reports of cadets being severely injured or losing their lives in military camps emerge every year.
Some cadets are also assigned posts on a par with personal servants or errand boys for their seniors.
Last month, one cadet made a complaint online of having been forced to look after his superior’s chickens and fighting cocks, and even having to live near to their cages amid poor hygienic conditions.
Debates about the military draft tend to emerge more intensely during periods of junta rule, when military-centric politics is heavily observed.
Prayut, meanwhile, responded to observations on the upcoming military reshuffle list, which appoints and moves high-ranking officers.
The junta chief and PM brushed aside any favouritism or nepotism potentially playing a part in the list.
“The Defence Ministry will take care of this. They’ll consider each officer’s capability and seniority. The list should be made fair and appropriate,” he insisted.