I am visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos with a few friends before the end of this year. I am a 26 year old Thai citizen that came to the states when I was 2 years old and this will be my first time returning to the country. I was told that there might be a chance that when i arrive in Thailand, I may be drafted into the military. This trip is VERY important to us and getting my US citizenship and US passport is NOT an option at this point (long story). Im aware that i should have done it a long time ago and now im paying for my procrastination so please do not leave responses like "you should have got you US citizenship taken care of." This is scaring the crap out of me because 2 years in the military will ruin my life out here but this trip is more important (for various personal reasons) and im willing to take the risk. WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME?? Please shed some light on the things i can do to prevent, avoid, or at the very least postpone this military draft. All your input is VERY much appreciated.
#1 SNeeKTiP has been a member since 30/7/2010. Posts: 3
Do you speak Thai? You left when you were young, so if it wasn't nurtured, then you shouldn't speak it well anymore. I know a girl who lives in Germany and left when she was four. Her Thai sucks. If you can't speak the language then you have no value to them. That's a plus.
Some potential issues I see. You did not serve as a baby tiger obviously, since your high school days weren't here. So you should have been vulnerable to being drafted. I believe you have to register for the draft here, which you have failed to do. The only place this has any chance of being questioned is when you enter the country. If you don't speak Thai, I doubt they would want to draft you, but you could fact legal consequences that cost money and perhaps some jail time (nothing money shouldn't be able to get you out of if you have enough of it).
The way I see it, as soon as you come into Thailand the immigration official is going to scratch his head - Thai passport but no entry or exit stamps from Thailand. If you don't speak Thai, they're going to probe some. I mean, I would. I'd be asking is this guy legit? But unless there is a warrant for your arrest and the airport officials have you in the system (possible, but I don't think probable, although I am speculating) then it probably won't occur to them "hey, this guy should have registered for the draft."
Last, but not least, if you can enter Asia via Hanoi, instead of BKK, I would think your chances of successfully crossing into Thailand with less hassle someplace like Mukdahan or Nakhon Phanom would be better than BKK. If I were a betting man, I would bet that access to a centralized data base in BKK is a lot more efficient (and in the sticks maybe no access at all) than it is at the airport.
I have a good friend of mine who evaded the draft here for eight years and was finally caught (not because he was hiding, but because the system was so inefficient in pursuing him). I'll talk to him about how his court case went and what light he can shed on it.
Interesting question SNeeKTiP!
Re speaking Thai. I can't see why you can't just pretend you don't speak Thai even if you do. I speak French well enough to pass myself off as a native speaker but there have been occasions when I've pretend I don't speak any French (or English) ... depends on the circumstances which language I suddenly have terrible trouble understanding. ;-)
Re the computer system at border checkpoints. Well, my passport always gets flagged because it's a replacement (obtained in Bangkok) for a lost/stolen passport. Despite the fact that there are now dozens of entry stamps, not to mention proper Thai visas in it, every single time I go through passport control a supervisor gets called over to OK it....doesn't matter if it's at the airport or some wooden shed at a land border crossing. I think the access to a centralized data system is the same everywhere.
Thanks guys. You guys are really great help compared to the ignorant responses I got on other travel forums haha... From what I hear, The way the draft works is somewhat like the lottery. I don't fully understand it though. All i know is that there are red balls (or cards) and black balls and if a red ball is drawn you get drafted and if a black ball is drawn, you're in the clear. Would it be safe to say that if I do go out there and they ARE aware that I have not registered for the draft, I still have a 50/50 chance that I'm in the clear? Do you know how that works?
MADMAC, what kind of consequences did your friend have to face when he was caught? and how much do you think is "enough" money to avoid a prison senctence?
SBE, you make a good point about pretending. I speak thai good enough to hold a simple conversation but it is very broken anyway so pretending to not be able to speak it will be a breeze. plus i can read or write anyhow.
#4 SNeeKTiP has been a member since 30/7/2010. Posts: 3
"All i know is that there are red balls (or cards) and black balls and if a red ball is drawn you get drafted and if a black ball is drawn, you're in the clear. Would it be safe to say that if I do go out there and they ARE aware that I have not registered for the draft, I still have a 50/50 chance that I'm in the clear? Do you know how that works?"
I assume you've already failed to register, so in my mind, that would be the first issue to deal with. I'll call him tonight and, if I can get ahold of him (he's a singer in a band here, a very good one) then I'll let you know how his case went. He's on the road right now, not here in Muk.
Thanks a lot pal. I really appreciate it!!
#6 SNeeKTiP has been a member since 30/7/2010. Posts: 3