SECURITY FORCE REFORM?
This massacre has happened just ahead of the next election, which is scheduled for the first half of next year. Politicians are starting to get into campaign mode.
In the past, opposition parties have occasionally campaigned on issues around reforming the security forces, and in recent years there have been signs the government wants to be seen to be doing things on this issue.
One such topic has been that of military conscription – all men over 21 years of age in the country must register for the draft, which takes the form of a lottery every April.
This practice is very unpopular, and became a political issue in the last election. The military has floated ways to scale back conscription, but whether changes will actually be implemented is another matter.
My studies of the Thai military over a long period suggest such announcements are often quietly shelved later.
Indeed there’s relatively little oversight of the security forces, because of the country’s governance – in many respects, the military is the government. Other agencies of the government are reluctant to put any pressure on the security forces, as is the country’s anti corruption commission. Military reform is left to the military itself.