PM Srettha blasts army over unapproved salary deductions

Photo courtesy of The Nation

The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has been caught in a controversy following revelations about questionable salary deductions from conscripts, including a 500 baht fee for cleaning a septic tank. However, the RTA claims these documents were never approved or implemented.

Colonel Richa Suksuwanon, Deputy Spokesperson for the RTA, addressed the uproar yesterday. He clarified that the leaked document detailing the deductions was from a new-recruit training unit and was intended solely for internal discussion.

“It was meant for a meeting to assess the appropriateness of managing recruits’ expenses. No deductions have been made according to the document.”

After a unit review meeting, the expense list was revised to exclude utility costs, including the septic tank cleaning fee, which totalled 990 baht. This adjustment ensures each recruit receives their full salary of 6,170 baht.

Public confusion and concern about conscripts’ rights prompted the RTA to launch an investigation.

“The 2nd Army Area has been tasked with forming a committee to look into the matter.”

Additionally, the commander of the 22nd Logistics and Support Battalion, the unit responsible for the training, has been reassigned to assist at the 2nd Army Area to guarantee a transparent investigation.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin weighed in, calling the deduction of utility expenses unacceptable and emphasised that such practices should never occur. Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang echoed these sentiments, underscoring that conscripts’ income is a crucial policy issue.

“Salary deductions for unofficial items are prohibited and not part of our policy.”

Ministry of Defence spokesperson Jirayu Huangsap added that over 200 recruit training units within the RTA had never charged for septic tank cleaning, reported The Nation.

“The issue is under investigation, and any wrongdoing will be met with disciplinary action according to regulations.”

UPDATE: Septic shock: Colonel reassigned amid conscripts fee fuss

Following an online controversy, the colonel of the 22nd Logistic and Services Battalion has been reassigned to the 2nd Army Region. The issue arose when conscripts were charged a 500 baht fee for septic tank maintenance and other unjustified expenses.

The Facebook page Esor News 3 shared a conscript’s salary slip on June 12, reporting that the conscript had asked for help in seeking justice due to salary deductions for various unreasonable fees, particularly a 500 baht charge for septic tank maintenance. The page highlighted that a 500-baht fee per person was excessive for septic tank maintenance within the army premises, suggesting possible corruption among high-ranking authorities.

After the story went viral on Thai social media, the Commander of the 2nd Army Region, Adul Boon-dhamcharoen, clarified the situation, stating that the document was a misunderstanding. Adul explained that the salary slip shared on social media was merely a draft submitted to the colonel of the 22nd Logistics and Services Battalion, Archawin Akkapin, for approval. Archawin identified some listed deductions as unreasonable and removed them, including the 500 baht fee for septic tank maintenance.

Adul insisted that this explanation was not an excuse but the truth, maintaining that the draft document had been leaked before the official one was released.

In the official salary slip, each conscript’s salary was 10,990 baht. After deducting necessary expenses, the remaining amount was 6,170 baht, not the 4,710 baht that initially sparked controversy.

Adul admitted that the issue affected the Royal Thai Army’s (RTA) image, prompting further investigation and measures to prevent similar incidents. Consequently, the colonel of the 22nd Logistics and Services Battalion, Archawin, was transferred to the 2nd Army Region during the investigation.

The Minister of Finance, Sutin Klungsaeng, emphasised in an interview with Thai PBS that conscript and soldier salaries are important policies to attract people to join the RTA. He added that he ordered relevant authorities not to deduct soldiers’ salaries for any unofficial expenses.

ORIGINAL STORY: Controversial 500 baht fee on conscripts scrapped after backlash

A recent directive has cancelled a controversial 500 baht fee for septic tank maintenance levied on conscripts after widespread confusion and criticism. The decision follows revelations that conscripts who earn over 10,000 baht monthly, were left with only a few thousand baht after various deductions.

The Facebook page E-Sor Crushing News 3 posted details yesterday of the expenses for new conscripts in Batch 1/67 of a particular unit. The post stated that conscripts received 7,830 baht for May’s 31 days and an additional 3,160 baht for 12 days in June, totalling 10,990 baht.

The post highlighted the conscripts’ frustration.

“Good heavens!!! New conscripts lament their salary remaining under 5,000 baht after miscellaneous deductions, including a 500 baht fee per head for septic tank maintenance.”

This sparked a vigorous online debate, with many questioning the necessity and high cost of such fees.

The story took another turn when E-Sor Crushing News 3 updated their followers.

“Conscripts rejoice… the unit has cancelled the 500 baht septic tank fee due to a likely misunderstanding.”

The initial report attracted significant public attention. Many online commenters expressed disbelief over the high cost of the septic tank maintenance fee.

“Why should septic tank maintenance cost this much per person?”

This sentiment was echoed across social media platforms, contributing to a growing demand for transparency and fairness in conscript expenses.

Following the uproar, the conscripts’ unit acted swiftly to address the issue. The cancellation of the fee was seen as a positive response to the public outcry, with many lauding the decision as a step towards fairer treatment of conscripts.

The financial strain on conscripts had been a recurring issue. Many conscripts, despite receiving a monthly salary of over 10,000 baht, found themselves with only a fraction of this amount after deductions. Items deducted ranged from essential supplies to seemingly arbitrary fees, further exacerbating their financial woes.

“We receive our salary, but after all the deductions, there’s barely enough left to send back home.”

Fee cancellation

The recent developments have brought some relief and a sense of justice to the conscripts. The decision to cancel the 500 baht fee has been welcomed as a move towards greater accountability and fairness. However, the incident has also highlighted the need for continued scrutiny of conscript expenses to ensure transparency and fairness.

The swift cancellation of the fee reflects the power of social media and public opinion in bringing about change. The conscripts’ plight, once shared online, quickly garnered widespread support and led to an immediate response from their superiors.

In the wake of this controversy, there are calls for a broader review of conscript expenses. Advocates argue that a comprehensive review is necessary to prevent similar issues in the future and to ensure that conscripts receive their full entitlements without undue deductions, reported KhaoSod.

PM Srettha blasts army over unapproved salary deductions | News by Thaiger

Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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