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Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang Addresses Dubious Salary Deductions for Thai Conscripts

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Conscripts proudly display their ATM cards and cash withdrawal slips as the army promotes its activities. However, some newly recruited soldiers might be unaware that they have a host of expenses to pay—from uniforms to a less glamorous septic tank pumping fee. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam) (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)

The Ministry of Defence has recently rolled out a comprehensive set of criteria to delineate which expenses can be deducted from conscripts’ salaries, ensuring that military recruits have a decent amount of money to enjoy. This move follows a social media uproar over claims of dubious deductions from conscripts’ salaries for utilities and miscellaneous items, including WiFi charges and a 500-baht septic tank pumping fee.

One soldier highlighted the plight, presenting a slip showing that these deductions gobbled up 60% of his monthly salary. The outcry was significant enough that Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang ordered a thorough investigation.

Under the new guidelines, permissible deductions from conscripts’ salaries feature a food service fee of about 2,100 baht per month per person, which translates to roughly 70 baht per day. Additionally, military units are allowed to deduct costs for personal items that can’t be reimbursed from the ministry’s budget. It’s often the case that new recruits arrive at military units without necessary personal items, and in such situations, the units provide the supplies they need. Buying these supplies in bulk, straight from suppliers, keeps costs lower than the market price. If any unit is found exploiting this by purchasing supplies at inflated prices, severe consequences await those involved, the ministry warned.

Notably, some deductions are voluntary, covering expenses like laundry fees, clothing alteration fees, and services at a post exchange (PX)—a retail store within a military unit selling merchandise and services to personnel.

Conversely, certain deductions are off-limits, including utility fees, septic tank pumping fees, WiFi charges, costs for military field gear, ATK test kits, face masks, and alcohol sanitizers. The ministry recommended that military units use income from their business ventures to cover insurance costs.

Jirayu Houngsub, spokesperson for the ministry’s political affairs, revealed that Mr. Sutin had delved into all military units to scrutinize the dissemination of documents indicating deductions like WiFi charges and other personal items for conscripts. These deductions included insurance costs (330 baht), daily items (1,100 baht), and even a bag (590 baht). With conscripts earning an average of 10,990 baht per month, these deductions significantly impacted their take-home pay.


  1. Nina R. June 20, 2024

    This is outrageous! How can they justify taking 60% of these soldiers’ salaries for such trivial things?

    • David Lee June 20, 2024

      It’s appalling. These young men and women are serving their country, not paying for someone else’s septic tank cleaning.

      • Nina R. June 20, 2024

        Exactly, David! The Ministry of Defence needs to get its act together and ensure fair treatment.

    • Luke1990 June 20, 2024

      Come on, those soldiers still get paid more than minimum wage workers. A little perspective, please.

      • Joe M. June 20, 2024

        Are you serious, Luke? They are paid essentially to risk their lives. Comparing that to minimum wage is just ridiculous.

    • Paul G. June 20, 2024

      Some of these fees are necessary for maintaining the base. The Ministry just needs to be transparent with the recruits.

      • Samantha W. June 20, 2024

        Transparency would certainly help, but that doesn’t mean they should deduct everything from their meager salaries.

        • Paul G. June 20, 2024

          Agreed, Samantha. But it’s better than hidden fees. At least they know what’s being deducted.

  2. Patricia L. June 20, 2024

    This sounds like a scam. Why should soldiers pay for WiFi and septic tanks?

    • marvin42 June 20, 2024

      Because someone up the chain is pocketing the extra cash. I’ve seen it happen in other sectors.

      • Patricia L. June 20, 2024

        That makes sense, marvin42. It’s a shame that corruption exists even in the military.

    • LTGamer June 20, 2024

      It might just be about keeping up with modern needs. Soldiers need WiFi like anyone else.

      • Kim D. June 20, 2024

        WiFi, sure. But what’s next? Charging for air to breathe?

  3. Sara June 20, 2024

    I understand deductions for necessities, but the soldiers should have a say in where their money goes.

    • Bobby T. June 20, 2024

      In an ideal world, perhaps. But they signed up knowing the system.

      • Sara June 20, 2024

        Yes, but that doesn’t mean the system shouldn’t be improved, Bobby.

    • Cynthia P. June 20, 2024

      Soldiers are often too young to stand up for themselves in such a rigid hierarchy.

      • Sara June 20, 2024

        Exactly. We need to advocate for them to ensure fair treatment.

  4. Tommy June 20, 2024

    The new guidelines from the ministry seem promising, but will they actually enforce it?

    • Aiko S. June 20, 2024

      Indeed, enforcement is key. Guidelines without action are pointless.

      • Tommy June 20, 2024

        Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see. Past behavior doesn’t make me very optimistic.

  5. Zara King June 20, 2024

    Those manipulating the system for personal gain should face harsh penalties!

    • E-Gamer June 20, 2024

      It’s nearly impossible to catch every instance of corruption. What matters is how strictly they enforce the rules.

      • Zara King June 20, 2024

        True, but it’s still important to set an example by punishing those who are caught.

    • GrumpyOldMan June 20, 2024

      Corruption is part of human nature. The key is making it harder to happen rather than trying to eliminate it completely.

  6. Amy L. June 20, 2024

    The concept of voluntary deductions makes sense, but it shouldn’t be abused to cover basic necessities.

    • Josh96 June 20, 2024

      As long as it’s transparent and conscripts agree, there shouldn’t be an issue.

      • Amy L. June 20, 2024

        Agreed, but full consent and understanding are often missing in these situations.

  7. Tom June 20, 2024

    It’s amazing how someone thought it was okay to charge for a septic tank fee. Unbelievable!

    • Patty June 20, 2024

      Pretty sure it was more a matter of negligence or oversight rather than active malice.

      • Tom June 20, 2024

        Negligence from leadership is just as bad. It shows a lack of competency.

  8. Jules June 20, 2024

    I think the army should provide for soldiers’ basic needs without dipping into their salaries.

  9. Anna W. June 20, 2024

    It’s commendable that the Ministry of Defence is acting upon this issue. Better late than never, right?

  10. Edward June 20, 2024

    Interesting how when public pressure mounts, the authorities suddenly become proactive.

    • Sasha June 20, 2024

      Better that than ignoring the issue entirely. Public accountability works!

      • Edward June 20, 2024

        True, but the soldiers should never have had to deal with this in the first place.

  11. Greg June 20, 2024

    Soldiers should not have to worry about extra fees while serving. It’s a distraction and totally unfair.

    • Vicky June 20, 2024

      Balancing the budget is never easy. Some fees are unfortunately necessary.

      • Greg June 20, 2024

        Necessary maybe, but it should never get to the point where soldiers are left with nothing.

  12. Mark June 20, 2024

    Just another example of why the conscription system is flawed. Mandatory service should be abolished.

    • Lindsay G. June 20, 2024

      Military service builds character and patriotism. Abolishing it would weaken national solidarity.

      • Mark June 20, 2024

        That’s a nice ideal, but the reality is conscripted soldiers are often exploited. Voluntary service is better.

  13. Nova June 20, 2024

    If ministries were more transparent with budget use, we wouldn’t have such issues with salary deductions.

  14. Alice B. June 20, 2024

    Can we just appreciate that the soldiers went public with these issues? It took guts and they deserve our support.

    • John June 20, 2024

      Absolutely, Alice! They brought much-needed attention to a serious problem. Kudos to them!

      • Alice B. June 20, 2024

        Yes, now it’s on the authorities to follow through and make lasting changes.

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