Generals need conscripts

In a recent report, self-appointed Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha declared that the military “need[s] to retain the mandatory conscription for Thai male adults as soldiers form an indispensable force in time of crisis or emergency.”

He added that conscripts “have several roles besides defending the country. He said soldiers are necessary in time of crisis as government agencies don’t have enough manpower to deal with such situation.”

The Dictator also said that “living conditions of conscripts now are much better off than they were in the past…”.

What he didn’t talk much about was why the higher-ups really “need” conscripts or how so many conscripts and recruits have been subjected to torture in training and how some have died.

In the past, the Deputy Dictator has defended “extreme discipline.” He believed “all soldiers have had to undergo such disciplinary measures, including himself.” He added: “I was once repaired more than I could take and I fainted too. I didn’t die.” In other words, torturing recruits is fine and if they die, it is a matter of their own weakness. The Dictator himself defended the practice: “What’s wrong with it? I went through it all.”

“Military discipline” establishes hierarchy and marks territory. The military does this with violence. This is also how they run the country: threats of violence and the use of violence.

But why do they want conscripts?

The evidence is that conscripts are free labor for officers. Not that long ago, Wilat Chantarapitak, a former Democrat Party MP and former advisor to a parliamentary anti-corruption committee, said the conscription system is “riddled with corruption because more than half of the conscripts end up as servants in the houses of senior officers or in military cooperative shops.”

Worse, many become slave labor for officers.

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