RTA condemned after ordering bedridden patient to report for conscription

Photo via The Bangkok Insight and Dara Daily

Thai netizens criticised the Royal Thai Army (RTA) for their lack of empathy after a woman had to take her bedridden disabled son to report for conscription in the northern province of Lamphun.

A former Thai actor, 21 year old Thanakit “Off” Wutthirothong, left the movie industry after a motorcycle accident rendered him disabled. A drunk woman crashed her car into Off’s motorcycle leaving him with serious brain damage. Since then, he has been bedridden and under the care of his mother, 49 year old Duangkamon Wutthirothong.

The story went viral on social media after a video was posted of Off and his mother reporting for conscription. Thai netizens initially criticised Duangkamon for taking her bedridden son to the conscription site, but she later explained that she was ordered to attend by a military recruiting officer.

On Saturday, April 8, Duangkamon explained that she learned last year that her son had to report for conscription and tried to contact the RTA to report her son’s condition. She prepared medical documents and a disabled identification card, along with pictures and videos of her son, to prove that he could not serve in the military.

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Despite providing this evidence, a military recruiting officer urged her and Off to report themselves to the premises. Duangkamon tried to negotiate with the RTA to avoid travelling to the premises, because of the risk of infection to Off, but the RTA insisted on their processes.

Officers claimed that they needed to check Off’s health condition in order to indicate whether his illness would make him exempt from future years.

The story caused an uproar on Thai social media, with many calling for the RTA to be more accommodating to disabled or ill individuals. Some even requested that the conscription be cancelled altogether and open up positions to those willing to serve in the military.

In response, Royal Thai Army Region 3 spokesperson Roongkhun Mahapanyawong, issued an apology to Off and his mother during a press conference yesterday. Roongkhum clarified that it was the rule of the RTP, but the army understood the difficulties it caused for Off and Duangkamon.

Roongkhun apologised for the inconvenience and stated that the RTA already raised the issue with the relevant authorities on this issue.

Roongkhun also announced that anyone unable to report for conscription due to ill health or disability to report the information to the RTA. The authorities would then perform health checks at their accommodation for further conscription exemption processes.

Thailand News

Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at petch@thethaiger.com.

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