Min Aung Hlaing has once again raised the prospect of compulsory national service for all Burmese. At a meeting in Naypyidaw today, the coup leader reiterated that every citizen had a responsibility to serve in the military for two to three years under the country’s People’s Military Service Law.
The junta has made frequent references to universal conscription since the coup, as it roundly fails to recruit new soldiers.
The senior general said that conscription was one of the three major aims of his dictatorship, the first being to grow the country’s economy “according to the experience of last year” (a strange ambition considering the World Bank this month said that Burma’s economy was 30% smaller than it would have been without the coup).
Establishing “multi-party democracy” was mooted as the second goal — the military has announced that it is to introduce the proportional representation electoral system, something that, if it comes about, will certainly mean that the Hluttaw will consist of a wider range of weak proxy parties of all colors.
The People’s Military Service Law, also known as the Compulsory Military Service Law, was enacted by the State Peace and Development Council (the SPDC — Burma’s previous junta) on Nov. 4, 2010 and has never before been enforced. Min Aung Hlaing’s third burning ambition, he said, was to change this.
“We have not yet enforced the military service law because we have internal armed conflicts. If we can achieve the first and second targets [a functioning economy and a multi-party system of democracy] then lastly we will need to upgrade our defense force. In that case, everyone must serve in the military under the Military Service law… maybe for one or two years, depending on the country’s situation. This must be achieved. We will suffer… we will be insulted if the defense force is not strong,” asserted Burma’s dictator.
DVB recently published an opinion series to mark the year of the failed coup which, amongst other things, considers the reasons for the military’s rediscovered ambition of universal conscription.