People’s Military Service System supposed as Mandatory Military Service System

By Min Khant Kyaw (Law)


The State Administration Council (SAC) issued a statement that the Peo­ple’s Military Service Law shall come into force starting from 10 February 2024. It is witnessed that several points of view and noises have appeared. Some peo­ple have an optimistic view on it but some have pessimistic view. Again, some people say like it is a strange thing in our country. People’s Military Service Law is the one which has been enacted since 1959. It can be observed that the People’s Military Service Law 1959 concerns all citizens in the specific age ranges but it was mainly practised for doctors. The People’s Military Service Law 1959 had been a law until the Peo­ple’s Military Service Law 2010 has been enacted. In fact, the People’s Military Service Law 2010 is the one which is precise­ly drafted and updated, keeping the essence of the People’s Mil­itary Service Law 1959. It can be clearly seen that the People’s Military Service Law has been enacted since 1959 and come in force since 1st of July 1962.


Let’s take a glance on the salient points of the People’s Mili­tary Service Law which has come into force starting 10 February 2024:


Eligible age for serving mili­tary service


- If a male, any citizen from the age of 18 to 35

- If a female, any citizen from the age of 18 to 27,

- If he is an expert [profession­al occupation] male, a citizen from the age of 18 to 45,

- If she is an expert female, a citizen from the age of 18 to 35,

- Expert means those who are medical doctors, engineers, technicians or anyone who practises some form of ex­pertise.


Duration of military service


- Any citizens who are in eli­gible age for military service can be called up to serve the military service not more than 24 months.

- Among the citizens who are in eligible age for military ser­vice, those who are called up for the Tatmadaw (military) technician service, he or she has to serve not more than 36 months.

- Any citizens who are in eligible age for military service as ex­pert, he or she can be called up to serve the military service not more than 36 months.


Who are exempted from mil­itary service?


The following individuals shall be exempted from military service;


- Member of religious order;

- Married women (including those women with children even she is divorced);

- People with permanent disability;

- Individuals those are rec­ognized as permanently inappro­priate for military service by the Tatmadaw medical examination board; and

- Those who are exempted by order from Central Body for Summoning People’s Military Servants.


Regarding the question whether every person who has turned 18 shall have to serve military service, those appro­priate with underneath crite­ria can apply for temporary postponement of the military service duty. They are:


- Those who temporarily fail to meet medical fitness for mili­tary service with recommen­dation from the Tatmadaw medical examination board;

- Civil servants;

- Students;

- Those who are taking care of their helpless aged parents;

- Those who are under medi­cal treatment for terminating drug abuse and;

- Those who are imprisoned.

Depending upon the sit­uation in the State, temporary postponement might be changed into permanent exemption for military service. People evidently come to understand the condition when specific by-laws, rules and regulations come out.


Some people are worrying about themselves whether they would have to serve military ser­vice this instant or they would be arrested for military service as the law has come into force. Nonetheless, those who under­stand the law will not worry about it. Subversive media and pessimists will surely instigate the public panic. As of the list of adult at the age of 18 and over that relevant governmental depart­ments have registered, if they are summoned for, they must to be registered. The departments will issue a certificate for the regis­tration. Those who have received certificate shall be summoned for medical examination. After they pass the medical examination, they have to enlist for military service as per the prescribed duration. All registered citizens shall not be summoned but pro­portional/rotational system will be exercised, depending upon the required number.


There is no condition for all eligible persons to serve mili­tary service at the same time. Depending upon manpower the State needs, proportional and rotational system will have to be practised to avoid negative im­pacts on: job opportunity of the people; businesses of entrepre­neurs; the right to education of students; and tasks and functions of civil servants and governmen­tal departments. If one serves the military service early, the State’s duty will be fulfilled fast. Under the law, his turn to fulfil the duty will be also accomplished early. When the citizens receive the cer­tificate of completion duty, they may obtain particular benefits.


Here, one thing I wish to say is that the criticism on the Law starting in Myanmar like an act of newly and strange wrong doing is not an objective assessment although such law is being practised in other foreign countries under the name of Na­tional Military Service System, People’s Military Service System and Mandatory Military Service System. Some people say that it needs not for internal conflicts but for external war of aggres­sion. If we take a glance at which countries around the world have practised such system, we can see that a lot of countries have done it. Among them, you can study which country are going to war against another country. During 1861-1865 when civil war was being waged in the


United States, the conscrip­tion system was practised by both the south and the north. Such practice was a push towards vol­untary military service system. It is observed that the draft was abandoned following the civil war.


Serving mandatory military service is a duty prescribed by the State for the people to enlist in the armed forces as soldiers. Such kind of service existed in the past and majority of countries in the world pursued such practice until present days under various names. National conscription sys­tem for the youths that is nearly congruent in most of the coun­tries in today’s world originat­ed from the French Revolution broke out in 1790s. Later, many European countries replicate the system even in peace time.


Number of the countries practising such system may vary depending upon the study conducted. As of https://www., it can be observed that 49 countries have practised the conscription system. As the ASEAN regional countries, such system is being practised in Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Viet Nam. Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and UAE are still prac­tising it. In Asia, Armenia, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan can be found as the countries that practise man­datory military service system. In Europe, Austria, Belarus, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Geor­gia, Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Sweden, Turkiye and Ukraine are stated as the coun­tries that practise mandatory military service system.


Numbers of countries are building up their armed forces to defend the State, to perpetuate national sovereignty and not to disintegrate the State. In terms of the economic power and the population, nations chose either voluntary military service system of conscription system. Occasion­ally, they practise both. Thailand, the neighbouring country of My­anmar, is also practising both vol­untary military service system and mandatory military service system simultaneously. Despite People’s Military Service Law has been enacted in Myanmar since 1959, it took priority over voluntary military service sys­tem. Nonetheless, under the need of the State today, both systems will be practised to a certain ex­tent. Under the constitution, the State guarantees citizen’s right, in return, citizens shall fulfill the State’s duty when it comes on the shoulders.


Hereof, everybody is re­quired to fill bio data correctly if they are summoned under the law. It does not mean that every registered person shall have to serve the military service. People will have the opportunities given by the law. However, if one at­tempts to evade military service by all means, there is no way to escape it under Section 28 of the People’s Military Service Law. Here, what I would advise you is that you shall be dutiful when the State’s duty comes on your shoulders. I hereby urge you to feel and visualize yourself as a dutiful soldier fulfilling the State’s duty when necessary.