Military conscription draw underway in Phuket

PHUKET: The “lucky draw” for mandatory military service for men over 21 years old is underway in Phuket, with 206 men from Rassada and Rawai presenting themselves at the Indoor Sports Stadium at Saphan Hin yesterday (Apr 5).

Of the men who presented themselves for conscription, 55 men were called up for the famous “lucky draw”. Under the lucky draw system, those who draw a ‘bai daeng’ (red card) will be entered into the Armed Forces to serve with either the Army, Air Force or Navy for up to two years. Those who draw a ‘bai dum’ (black card) will be exempt from conscription.

However, instead of relying on luck, 30 of the 55 men called up yesterday presented themselves to “volunteer” for national service, said a report by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket).

Of note, by volunteering for national service, a conscript may appeal to serve a reduced sentence.

While those who have not graduated from high school are required to serve two years regardless of whether they volunteer, high school graduates who volunteer are required to serve only one year.

In comparison, high school graduates who draw ‘bai daeng’ (red cards) are required to serve two years. 

Similarly, those with an associate degree or higher who volunteer are required to serve for only six months.

Further, as previously seen in Phuket, university students can request defer their conscription until they have graduated or reach 26 years of age.

According to the PR Phuket report, while 30 of 55 men called up yesterday volunteered, by pure coincidence all 25 of the remaining candidates drew a ‘bai dum’ (black card), meaning they are exempt from conscription.

A further oddity is that while the PR Phuket report noted that 30 men had “volunteered”, photos of the event show an Army officer clearly holding up a red card, indicating that at least one person had been conscripted without choice.

Yesterday was the second day of conscription of men from Muang District in Phuket, and the fifth day of the annual conscription being conducted on the island, the PR Phuket report noted.

Conscription events will be held in Wichit and Karon tomorrow (Apr 7), and in Chalong and Koh Kaew on Friday (Apr 8).

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