Thursday, June 15, 2017

Census 1947 and 1937

After I had found an online resource with the census reports starting in 1960, I was trying to find the older data as well. However, the online library of the National Statistics Office does not have the earlier census reports, and those few issues of the Statistical Yearbook in there have only few pages available - the recent issues which are completely available don't give any details on older censuses other than the regional aggregates. If I were in Thailand, I could of course visit some of the university libraries in Bangkok which have such old printed books - but since I am only there for vacation annually, I never made it yet to find such a book in a library.

But finally, Google and some luck helped to locate a scanned version of the 1952 Statistical Yearbook at archive.org. Google Books would have many more issues, but all of them only in snippet view, so totally unusable. And in that 1952 issue, several tables show at least partial data from the early censuses.
  • Table A3 - Population by Sex by Changwat, 1929, 1937 and 1947
  • Table A4 - Percentual changes of population by region and changwat, 1929, 1937 and 1947
  • Table A5 - Population per square km by changwat, 1937 and 1947
  • Table A6 - Population and area of Thai Changwats, 1947
  • Table A7 - Population and area of Thai Changwats, by Size, 1947
  • Table A17 - Population of  Municipalities, 1947
Despite the table title, A4 also included the census 1919 - however the data for 1919 and 1929 is rather inconsistent - the numbers don't sum up, out of the provinces abolished in 1933 only Sukhothai/Sawankhalok is considered, Si Sa Ket is left out though it was not newly created but renamed in 1939, thus for now I have to leave out these numbers. But for 1937 and 1947, I could now extract the numbers for each province including the numbers for each gender as well as the municipal population. I certainly would still love to get the census reports itself in my hands, especially if those go down to district levels like the later census reports, but now I already have more and better data than e.g. statoids. Of course, I already uploaded the new data to Wikidata as well as added the numbers to my spreadsheet and the corresponding XML files.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Translations of Thai laws on Wikisource

Royal decree creation Galyani Vadhana district
One of the lesser known sites within the Wikipedia universe is Wikisource, which aims to collect and translate source texts which have their copyright expired or are in the public domain already - similar with the Project Gutenberg but with a wider scope, as it is not limited to books. By the Thai copyright act, Thai laws like all documents produced by government directly, are not protected by copyright, thus everyone is free to reproduce these texts.

Thanks to one diligent user, there not just the Thai texts of several laws or acts online there, but also really good English translations  - much better than the English translation of the municipality act I bought as a book several years ago, and still haven't made it to write up the slating review. Those interesting law texts concerning the subdivisions available in English are the following:
Especially as the laws for the creation and upgrade of districts are worded very similar, it'd be relatively easy to add more, but sadly my time is limited so I haven't been active on these myself. Besides, more interesting would be translations of acts like the municipality act, which give the legal background on how the various subdivisions are supposed to work. However, the amendments of the Bangkok Meltropolitan Administration Act are the only ones in this class.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Residence of Phraya Anuman Rajadhon

As its very quiet in the Royal Gazette regarding the administrative subdivision, I'd like to report the announcement of a new historical monument (เขตที่ดินโบราณสถาน) - the former residence of Phraya Anuman Rajadhon (บ้านพระยาอนุมานราชธน) in Bang Rak district, Bangkok.

Phraya Anuman (1888–1969) was a very notable anthropologist, who researched and wrote a lot about Thai culture, though sadly most of his works were never translated and thus remain behind the language barrier. He worked for the renowned Royal Institute, and even made it to become president of the Siam Society shortly before his death.

Map of the historical site
His residence in Soi 2 of Narathiwat road in Bang Rak district, not far from Chong Nonsi BTS station, has now been registered as a national historical site. The whole plot of the residence, an area of 1076 m² (2 งาน 69 ตารางวา) has been included as can be seen on the map which has been included with the announcement. The map also includes a list of nine numbered locations within the compound, not sure whether these are listed for orientation or whether these are actually notable parts of the monument.
  1. บ้านพระยาอนุมานราชธน (Residence)
  2. บ้านหลังเล็ก (Side house)
  3. อาคารที่พัก (Staff house)
  4. ศาลาแปดเหลี่ยม (Octogon pavillion)
  5. ห้องน้ำ (Toilet)
  6. ซุ้มไม้ระแนง (Pergola)
  7. สระน้ำ (Pool)
  8. ปั๊มน้ำ (Water pump)
  9. รูปแกะสลักสิงห์ (Stone lions)
I have added this new site to the list on the Thai Wikipedia - oddly this was a totally new site, not one of the many sites which were already listed by the Fine Arts Department but not announced officially in the Royal Gazette. Sadly the GIS site of the finearts department no longer allows to link the individual sites anymore - but even on the map this new site isn't listed yet, so this site apparently has no official Fine Arts ID number yet. I have also added an item in Wikidata, which (if all the sites were added someday) would allow to create a GIS map with a relatively simple query like my map of monuments in Bangkok Noi district. And since I also collect the monuments on my XML data files, here's the diff which added this site and the corresponding announcement.

From what the building looks like in Streetview, it seems this will be a difficult target to take a photo for the forthcoming next round of Wiki Loves Monument in September, unless someone knows the present owners. I probably get to that area in my forthcoming next holiday visit in Thailand, so I will at least be able to take a street view photo myself.

Monday, May 22, 2017

@Amphoe issue 2/2017

This years second edition of the @amphoe magazine has been made available as a PDF file (almost 50MB size), not sure whether it was this time uploaded before it gets available in the province halls and other locations. As usual, there is some limited amount of content in both Thai and English.
  • An interview with Ms. Phumarin Khongpiantham (น.ส. ภูมารินทร์ คงเพียรธรรม), the chief district officer of Na Haeo district in Loei on the specific problems of this very remote district at the boundary to Laos.
  • The touristic highlights of Phrae province. 
  • The number of administrative units, using the graphic I also used in my coverage of that data.
  • An article on the Civil Service Day (วันข้าราชการพลเรือน) on April 1st, which includes a very short summary of the administrative reforms of Prince Damrong and King Chulalongkorn.
This summary is worth a closer look, though sadly a lot is lost in translation.
As for regional administration, mueangs were divided into mueang and amphoe monthons with samuhathesaphibans, governors and sheriffs as the leaders to oversee the well-being of the people in their respective districts. Village headmen and chiefs existed to assist the tambon- and village-level operations. [...] As for local administration, the king had the idea to have the people participate by electing village headmen and chiefs instead of having these positions [appointed].
With my limited Thai and the knowledge from Tej Bunnag's book, it seems what was meant to be said is that as the Thesaphiban reforms, the country was divided into Monthon, Mueang and Amphoe, which have a commissioner (สมุหเทศาภิบาล, Samuha Thesaphiban), province governor (ผู้ว่าราชการเมือง) and chief district office (นายอำเภอ, here translated "sheriff") as the head of their administration respectively; and the Tambon and Muban as the most local divisions with the village headman and subdistrict headman (กำนัน, Kamnan, here translated as "chief") as their leader.

The Mueang became the present day provinces (จังหวัด, Changwat), the term changed in 1915, whereas the Monthon were abolished in 1933, replaced by regional administrations with much less power.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Constitutional System of Thailand: A Contextual Analysis

The book "The Constitutional System of Thailand: A Contextual Analysis" by Andrew Harding and Peter Leyland is on the list of books I intend to buy for some time already, yet both its relatively high price and my backlog of unread books kept me from buying it yet - somehow hoping for an updated second edition, as obviously the just recently promulgated constitution isn't covered in it yet.

Luckily, Google Books over to preview many pages of the book, not just the snippet view it has for most, so it is possible to have a look into it. As I stumbled into it when looking for the term "Thesaban" in Google Books, the section on the local governments had caught my attention - but sadly I quickly found several mistakes or inaccuracies in that part. If there'd be second edition, I hope these can be fixed.Though the local government isn't the prime focus of the book, discovering these inaccuracies make me now hesitate to invest into this book.

Starting on page 125, it lists the numbers of the municipalities. Oddly, it says are 25 cities - a number valid in 2010 - and a total number of 1456 Thesaban, which was correct in 2008. The book was published in 2011, but apparently the numbers from various years have been mixed up together. It also states that cities have 50,000 citizens, towns 10,000 (or being a provincial capital) and subdistrict municipalities at least 5,000. Though these numbers are defined in the municipality act, it doesn't mean all the municipalities today have these numbers. Especially the sanitary districts upgraded in 1999, but also several of the TAO upgraded more recently have a smaller population but were still granted that municipal status.

The coverage of the rural-based local governments is much more misleading, especially the Provincial Administrative Organizations (PAO)
Other than in Bangkok and Pattaya, the Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO) administers local government at the provincial level. This comprises two bodies:
i) an administrative body headed by the provincial governor; and
ii) an assembly of 24-48 members elected for a four-year term.
The Provincial Governor, renamed Chief Executive Officer (CEO), is elected from the council and is no longer appointed directly by the MOI. Provinces are divided administratively into a number of districts, headed by district officers who report to the CEO.
This completely mixes up the province as the central government unit, and the PAO. The province governor is still appointed by the MOI, and always has been, and it wasn't renamed to be CEO, but was only supposed to act in the more business style when Thaksin was prime minister. The PAO mayor however is directly elected since 2004, only before was elected by the council. Also the mention of Pattaya is a bit misleading, as it suggests that Pattaya is a special province like Bangkok - but in fact the citizen of Pattaya also elect the Chonburi PAO mayor and council.

A similar mixup happens at the subdistrict level.
[...] bit in rural areas 7,255 Tambon Administrative Organizations (TAOs) provide local government at the sub-district level. These TAOs govern an area with a relatively small population. Each one is headed by a sub-district chief (Kamnan). [...]
There was never a TAO for every Tambon, and only at the very beginning the Kamnan served as TAO chairman ex officio, then the chairman was elected by the council, and since 2004 the position was renamed to mayor and since then elected directly. But the Kamnan as the central administrative position remains as well in parallel, but also there never was a Kamnan in every Tambon.

As the final rural government structure the "Sukhapiban" or sanitary committee are mentioned - though the law governing them is still in effect, all of them were upgraded in 1999, but this isn't mentioned in the book.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Local governments Small-Medium-Large

It took a bit longer than expected to work through the Excel sheets published by DOLA recently to extract the data from there and compile it to be used in my XML files. There were quite a lot of local governments misspelled in the Excel sheets, in some cases an already announced name change wasn't included in them, and also in several cases the district was wrong, so it took some time to match all the data rows from the Excel sheets with the corresponding item in my syntax. The result is a bit lengthy in XML however...


I now have the area value, the DOLA code (which sadly isn't stable like the codes from DOPA) and the Small-Medium-Large assignment for each of the local governments. Though it'd be most interesting to compare these SML assignments over time, an overview of the current numbers is also interesting.
TypeSmallMediumLargeUnknown
TAO5120177352
Thesaban Tambon1875341134
Thesaban Mueang17135260
Thesaban Nakhon02550

A bit strange are the six local governments where the Excel sheets left the SML level empty. As these level are about the economic power of the local government, those in the Large category (ขนาดใหญ่) are the prime candidates to get upgraded to a higher municipal level. It'd be interesting to compare with an older table to see whether this guess matches with reality. I have saved the Excel sheet from DOLA since 2010, so its just the time which is the limiting factor in creating such a statistics.

Fun fact - when looking for an image to add to this post, most of the results for ขนาดใหญ่ ขนาดกลาง ขนาดเล็ก where anal plugs...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chue Ban Nam Mueang

I started this blog almost 10 years ago when I found a eBook which gave th romanized names for all provinces, districts and subdistricts, but was unable to contact anyone to get the obvious mistakes fixed for an eventual second edition. The only thing which happened was that later Excel sheets were added to the PDF files, making it a bit easier to go through the lists. As the original files are lost after various website relaunches, my copy of the files seems to be the only online source left.

It was an edit by the Thai Wikipedia Potapt  changing the spelling of Chang Chawa subdistrict to Chang Chwa in contrast to the recommended spelling. It turned out, that the word จว้า is from Northern Thai, and the syllable Chwa isn't found in Central Thai which makes the romanization look odd, and also might explain why it was romanized differently in 2006. The Royal Institute has reworked the recommended romanizations lately, and created a mobile app named Chue Ban Nam Mueang (Google AppStore). From the app description:
as well as 1,500 names of all provinces, Amphurs, Tambons, and special administrative regions in Thailand
Its already strange that the description uses the wrong romanization for the term "Amphoe", also 1500 would mean there are almost no Tambon in the data. Even worse is the German description in the AppStore, which is ludicrous Google Translate gibberish without any meaning, almost like the deadly joke. For those who don't speak German I added an English version.
Die Akademie der Mobil: mehr als fünfhundert lokalen Prioritäten Landnutzung, wie zum Beispiel, wie man schreibt. Es Fingerspitzen
The academy of mobile: more than five hundred local priorities land use, for example, how to spell. It fingertips
While a paper book is somewhat out of fashion now, a mobile app is an interesting way to make this issue more accessible - but the large drawback is that in fact it makes it even more difficult to get through the spellings in a systematic way than with the PDF from 2006. It seems the Royal Institute has not published the new list in any other ways, so it is almost impossible for me to check through the 7000+ names this way. And according to Potapt, even some of the old mistakes are still present.

I really wish the Thai authorities would be more accessible to feedback, it is really frustrating to see that in the last 10 years nobody in charge of that list ever looked online...