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12 million Thai men could be heading towards Military Conscription

The Junta appointed legislature recently passed a law that grants the military authority to order 300000 men annually into service. There was little public debate about the move other than the emergence of an online petition on Tuesday against the Armed Forces Reserve Act. It said that exposing 12 million men to summary conscription would lead to social and economic instability.

The new law effectively means that the Defense Ministry can call up to 2.5 percent of the 12 million reserve forces for service, refusing to serve would be punishable by four years in jail. All men in Thailand are considered to be eligible once they are 18, and continue to be so until they are 30. The law was passed without opposition by 192 members of the NLA, with four members abstaining.

It would allow the conscripts to be summoned for a variety of purposes such as helping with disaster relief, enforcing martial law, responding to emergency situations and preparing for war.

When he briefed the interim parliament on the plan in July, former army chief Udomdet Sitabutr said the impact would be negligible, as people would only need to serve for two months.

“There shouldn’t be any problem, because mobilizing the reserve force won’t take much time,” he said. “We will only summon 2.5 percent of the entire reserve force to place in military units, and they will train for only two months.”

 

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