The Recruitment of Soldiers Becoming the Highest Priority for the Military Council

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – May 02 Scenes
MoeMaKa, May 03, 2024

The Recruitment of Soldiers Becoming the Highest Priority for the Military Council

While many youths are seeking work abroad through official applications facilitated by labor ministries, companies, and job agencies, the Ministry of Labor of the military council has issued an order to temporarily suspend the acceptance of applications from men to work abroad starting May 2.

Young and middle-aged people from Myanmar are connecting with job agencies and brokers to leave for Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Korea, Japan, and Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. The restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 from 2020 to 2021 were eased somewhat in 2022. Consequently, the political problems, armed conflicts, and job shortages in Myanmar have driven many citizens to seek work abroad. Following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, Myanmar’s Mingaladon Airport has been crowded with people leaving for work abroad almost every day. Thailand, Malaysia, and Korea are the most visited countries, and the military council expects foreign currency to be sent back to the families of those working abroad.

Since the military coup in 2021, foreign investments have significantly decreased, particularly due to economic sanctions led by Western countries, including the United States, and the impacts of the military coup. Consequently, foreign exchange earnings have declined. To address this, the military council has been encouraging youths to work abroad and pressuring those working abroad to send money back to their families through legal channels. They aim to obtain foreign currency from these workers by imposing income taxes when they request certificates from the embassy. In recent years, as the military council has waged wars and the demand for foreign currency has increased to purchase necessary weapons, ammunition, and jet fuel for military helicopters and fighter jets, it has sought any means to obtain foreign currency, seeing income tax from Myanmar citizens working abroad as a primary source. However, activating the military conscription law in recent months has prevented young men from going to work abroad.

Prohibiting young and middle-aged men from legally working abroad prevents domestic men subject to conscription law from leaving the country, creating a contradiction for the military council. On one hand, they need foreign currency; on the other, they want to increase their military force through conscription.

In the current situation, the military council prioritizes recruiting soldiers over obtaining foreign currency, sacrificing all other considerations to replenish manpower on the fighting fronts across the country.

Similar to the current situation, young people of working age in Myanmar are being forced to join the war, while parents and family members urge them to leave the country by any means, whether crossing the border or by plane with a visiting visa, to live abroad. Parents are using all available resources to ensure their children are not conscripted into the infamous military council army.

Many people also attempt to enter Malaysia illegally by crossing the Thai border from Myanmar. Daily, people pay criminal gangs involved in human trafficking to cross into Thailand and enter Malaysia. These incidents often go unreported, and some youths lose their lives when traffickers fail to pay or resist arrest by authorities. Even though such incidents occur, they receive little media coverage.

Sadly, these events continue to happen and will likely persist. Even if the public is generally aware, they are not in a position to avoid them, seeing only the immediate danger and unable to foresee the long-term risks they will face.

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