By law, all Thai males in the year of their 21st birthday must attend conscription “lucky draw” in their home province to see if they will spend the next two years of their lives in military service.
Drawing a red card means military service, while drawing a black card means no military service but conscription duty fulfilled.
For Mr Thanon, that time came this morning (April 3) at Piboonsawasdee Municipal School on Damrong Rd in Phuket Town.
However, he requested that he “postpone” his service until a later date.
“I have to postpone my selection because I have to study in my first year at Bangkok University,” Mr Thanon explained.
“I am very excited and this has been fun, as this is my first time taking part in the ‘selection’. Every officer has taken good care of all of us… I am the only person in my family (eligible for the draft), so I have to be ready to be selected to be a soldier. It is the duty of all Thai men,” he said.
“I will be back after my ‘work’ is completed,” Mr Thanon said. “I have a new song coming up at the end of April and I have some fashion shows (to do).”
Col Jessada Fuengfoo from the Royal Thai Army Region 4 base in Nakhon Sri Thammarat is overseeing the “lucky draw” draft in Phuket Town
“We have already conducted the draws for Kathu and Thalang Districts,” he said, adding that 1,700 young men from Phuket’s Muang District only will be called on to draw red cards, or black cards, at the school today and tomorrow (April 3-4).
“Phuket only needs 514 draftees: 411 for the Royal Thai Army; 26 for the Royal Thai Air Force; and 77 for the Royal Thai Navy,” Col Jessada said.
Mr Thanon was not alone in his request to postpone taking part in the lucky draw draft.
“About 120 men have requested postponing taking part in the draw, including ladyboys and monks,” Col Jessada said.
Thai men have the right to request postponing taking part in the draw, and can continue to request to postpone their draw each year until they reach 26 years of age. In that year, they must take part in the draw.
It was explained to The Phuket News that postponing taking part in the draft was not unusual, with young men studying to become doctors being allowed to postpone taking part in the draw until they were 27 years old so that they could complete their initial studies uninterrupted.
In completing the draft duties today, Col Jessada asked Mr Thanon to sing one short song.
Mr Thanon happily obliged with a rendition of the same song that won him The Voice five years ago: A cover of Pang’s Proh Arai (“Because of what?”).