Army chief defends use of conscripts as domestic workers

The army chief has defended the use of conscripts as domestic workers at the homes of military bosses after a seaman complained about the way he was treated.

Deputy Defence Minister and army chief Udomdej Sitabutr backed the practice as users on social media raised their concerns after a seaman complained of abuse by his boss.

“Right now, we don’t call them ‘servant soldiers’ anymore. This word doesn’t exist. Right now, we call them ‘service soldiers’ who have a duty to assist their commanders,” he said.

The seaman conscript, Anek Polthongwijit, alleged Rear Admiral Benjaporn Bawornsuwan, in Nakhon Pathom, chained him up as punishment after he failed to perform tasks to his satisfaction. The rear admiral denied the allegation, reported the Bangkok Post.

“People who sign up for this work do so voluntarily. They want to have a living that is different to the barracks and their friends. Mostly, service soldiers will be well taken care of. Soldiers in some units even compete with each other to be service soldiers, because puuyai will take care of them,” the army chief said.

Benjaporn, however, alleges it was the conscript who acted inappropriately. The rear admiral claims in a letter sent to the media that Anek stole from him and tried to bribe him to win his release from compulsory military service.

Benjaporn also described an incident when Anek allegedly exposed himself to the rear admiral’s wife. Benjaporn claims the conscript stood under a tree and masturbated while watching his wife through a window.

Anek claims he was urinating, reported Khaosod English.

The navy is looking into the complaints.

Photo: Michael Coghlan

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