Comment: Thai nursery shooting raises drug use and gun control concerns ahead of next year’s election

SECURITY FORCES REFORM?

This massacre happened just before the next elections, scheduled for the first half of next year. Politicians are starting to get into campaign mode.

In the past, opposition parties have sometimes campaigned on issues related to security force reform, and in recent years there have been signs that the government wants to be seen to be doing things on this issue. .

One such topic was that of military conscription – all men over the age of 21 in the country must sign up for the draft, which takes the form of a lottery every April.

This practice is very unpopular and became a political issue during the last elections. The military has proposed ways to reduce conscription, but whether any changes will actually be implemented is another question.

My studies of the Thai military over a long period suggest that such announcements are often quietly shelved later.

Indeed, there is relatively little oversight of the security forces, due to the governance of the country – in many ways the military is the government. Other government agencies are reluctant to pressure the security forces, as is the country’s anti-corruption commission. Military reform is left to the military itself.

Dora W. Clawson