It’s past time that Thailand ended conscription, because aside from the South, we face no real military threat – and that’s likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
Our need for soldiers should thus be filled by willing citizens, not conscripts. Also, making recruitment voluntary will encourage the military to treat its members with more humanity.
On the other hand, I agree that, as Thais, we all owe a patriotic duty to serve the nation. But there are many ways to serve, other than the military. For example, our education system is bottom-of-the-barrel, especially in rural areas; why not have a counterpart of the United States’ Teach for America programme, which accepts only the best and the brightest graduates to teach in underprivileged areas? Or, our rural areas are woefully underdeveloped; how about a Thai Peace Corps to help close the gap?
In any case, I see no reason to exempt women from national service, including combat. US Senator Tammy Duckworth is of Thai ancestry, and served very honourably as a helicopter pilot, losing both legs in combat. Our women can fight!