BANGKOK: Thailand incumbent Prime Minister and former army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha has emphasised the importance of the military and its contribution to national security in his electoral campaigns ahead of a general election on Sunday (May 14).
The 69-year-old retired general is running for the premiership under the banner of the United Thai Nation Party, hoping to stay on in power after more than eight years in the job.
Speaking at a rally in southern Thailand on Thursday, Gen Prayut showed his support for military conscription, as opposed to his rivals’ position to replace the compulsory enlistment with voluntary recruitment.
“Soldiers look after the borders for us. They take risks for us. How many of them have lost their legs and arms and are lying in the hospitals? And who are they? Our children and grandchildren. These people carry out their duty according to their Constitution – the duty of all men,” he told supporters in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
“Soldiers are the security of the country,” he added.
Every Thai male citizen is required by law to participate in the military service. According to the Military Service Act of 1954, the selection of personnel shall be done by conscription or other means stipulated in the ministerial regulations.
“This is a principle that every country has. If Thailand has no soldiers, it will have no strength. Soldiers in other countries have fewer responsibilities compared to ours. They only go to wars. In Thailand, they provide assistance, alleviate disasters and help out during floods,” said the prime minister hopeful.
Other political parties, including Pheu Thai and Move Forward have proposed to abolish compulsory enlistment.