Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Number of administrative units 2018

The Department of Provincial Administration has published the latest statistics of the numbers of administrative units in Thailand, as of December 31st 2018. The numbers are as follows, with the 2017 numbers in brackets if there were changes.
  • Changwat: 76
  • Amphoe: 878
  • Tambon: 7255
  • Muban: 75032
  • PAO: 76
  • Thesaban: 2442 (2441)
    • Thesaban Nakhon: 30
    • Thesaban Mueang: 179 (178)
    • Thesaban Tambon: 2233
  • TAO: 5332 (5333)
  • Special administrative units: 2
There is only one change recorded, an upgrade of a TAO to a town municipality - which is the upgrade of Bang Khu Rat in Nonthaburi province. I haven't yet reported it on here, and in fact it was effective January 2nd 2019, so claiming the numbers are as of December 31st is not fully correct. As all other numbers stayed identical, it only shows that currently there's almost no activity concerning the administrative units. And as usual, there is still the odd discrepancy of one subdistrict which is not counted in this statistics, but still included in the population data.

One interested side-note - this year the document includes an English version, which I haven't seen before.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Constituency for the 2019 general election - Part 1

Yesterday, the Royal Gazette contained the announcement on the number of constituencies for each province for the long-delayed first election after the coup, to be held early next year (unless delayed again). While this might look like another big step towards getting ready for the election, in real it is nothing but publishing the result of a simple algorithm on how to spread 350 MPs over 76 provinces depending on their population, to make sure that each constituency has a similar number of eligible votes. As the number of constituency-based MPs changed from 375 to 350 as well as the population numbers changed since the last election, there are many provinces which will have a different number of MPs.

But in real this is just the minor part of the preparing the constituencies, running the algorithm is something done in few seconds. The real work is the definition of the constituencies themselves, splitting the area of each province into different parts having a similar population number. Even in those cases where a province has now the same number of constituencies as in 2013, the 2013 definition might have to get modified if the population within the different parts of the province has changed and would make the electoral weight of each vote too much differing. I only hope the commission has already started with that bigger task way directly after it was set up, and not waiting till the last laws for the election were officially signed - as knowing the constituency boundaries is important to start campaigning, or simply for the parties to select the candidates fitting for each constituency.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Finding a Muban

I was recently contacted by an adoptee who was trying to find out more about her origin in Thailand. Her translated birth certificate gives the following location
Village 10, Don Cheetuan, Dok Khamtai, Chiang Rai
Obviously, Dok Khamtai district in Phayao province is meant, which already gives the first confusion as that is not in Chiang Rai. That's simply because Phayao province was created in 1977, two years after her birth, so at that time the district was still part of Chiang Rai province.

When looking through the list of subdistrict in Dok Khamtai, there is no Don Cheetuan, the only one which is somewhat similar in name in Don Si Chum. Its name is similar enough to explain Cheetuan as a very badly translation/transcription of Si Chum, and its the only subdistrict starting with Don in all of Phayao province. It also fits as the subdistrict was created in 1972 by splitting off  12 administrative villages from Dok Khamthai subdistrict [Gazette]. Thus the place she should look for is Ban Bun Charoen (บ้านบุญเจริญ), Mu 10 of Don Si Chum - isn't it?

Sadly, it isn't that easy, because the village numbers are not stable identifiers for a location. Not only are administrative villages split when they grow to much populous, what makes it even moire difficult to identify a village is the fact that whenever a new subdistrict was created, the villages in the original subdistrict got renumbered to keep them as a list without holes.

Don Si Chum was split two times, in 1976 San Khong was formed out of three villages from Don Si Chum and another three from Ban Tham [Gazette], and in 1992 eight villages were split off to form Sawang Arom subdistrict [Gazette]. While in many of the Royal Gazette announcements on subdistrict creation the number changes are listed, only since 1993 this is included usually - and for both announcements relevant here it was omitted. Also, usually the village are only referenced by their number, the name is only very rarely added, so the present-day names of the villages are of no help.

When renumbering the villages, there are two possible schemes - either keep the original order and shift all the villages starting with the first hole in the list. Or fill the holes by renumbering only the villages with highest numbers, which has the advantage that less villages get a new number.

If the first renumbering scheme was used, then it would be easy to tell the new number of the village - the original village 10 would now be number 5, Ban Don Lek (บ้านดอนเหล็ก). But I guess the second scheme is the one more likely here. In 1976, the villages 4, 6 and 11 were split off, and assuming that there were still 12 villages in the subdistrict then, the most likely renumbering would have been
  • Mu 9 becomes Mu 4
  • Mu 10 keeps its number
  • Mu 11 becomes Mu 6
 In 1992, the villages 1,2,3,9,12,14,15 and 16 were split off, but without knowing how many Muban there were in the subdistrict at that time its impossible to guess to which number the old 10 was changed. The oldest Muban list with names of this subdistrict I have is from 1998 [Gazette], and that already lists the 10 Muban it has today. Two Muban must have been created between 1972 and 1998, but I have no idea when if they were created before 1992, then Mu 10 might have kept its number again, otherwise the old 10 might now be Mu 1 or 2.

All of the guesswork can only be solved when checking with the full government records, which hopefully the Kamnan or the district office can provide. Or maybe some older people living in the area all their life can remember how the Muban numbers changed. Only other source I could think of are old issues of the Local Directory from the years between 1974 and 1992, which might be found in university libraries in Bangkok. How much easier it would have been if the Muban always kept their numbers...

Friday, September 7, 2018

ccaatt geocode list updated

The Department of Provincial Administration has uploaded a new version of their ID lists, dated from August 30. Comparing them with the previous version from December last year only shows two differences
As no new administrative units were created, its not surprising there were almost no changes. And apparently those new districts in planning did not receive a code yet - unlike in past when many of planned minor districts already had IDs but then weren't created.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Na Duang TAO to be renamed

In the meeting number 35 on July 25th, the board to consider draft laws discussed the renaming of TAO Na Duang (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลนาด้วง), Na Duang district, Loei province to Kaeo Methi (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลแก้วเมธี). Its the first direct change to an administrative entity discussed in these board for a year when the merge of Wang Nuea was approved. Due to bad timing, I cannot read the transcript - is still inaccessible for me from Germany, and during my visit in Thailand recently I downloaded all the PDFs of the past year but this wasn't online then yet. Thus the announcement in the Royal Gazette will show whether the board approved the change or not.

The subdistrict Na Duang (ตำบลนาด้วง) is covered by two local governments, Na Duang TAO and Na Duang subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลนาด้วง). Thus this name change can either mean that the TAO will get upgraded to a municipality soon, or it simply to clean up the name ambiguities of the former sanitary districts in preparation of the proposed upgrade of all TAO to municipalities.

The name "Kaeo Methi" is the name of village number 5 of Na Duang subdistrict, which is also the location of the TAO office.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Elected province governors

The issue why the province governors are all appointed officials sent by the Ministry of Interior and not elected directly by the citizens of the respective province - like it is the case in Bangkok since 1972 - has come back into discussion as it is one of the campaign topics by the newly founded "Future Forward Party" for the forthcoming long-delayed election, as it is mentioned in this interview with the party founder.

The website isaanrecords has already followed up this interview with two articles on this topic. First, the summary of a talk by Tanet Charoenmuang given in Maha Sarakham in April, describes the history of the local governments in Thailand compared to the centrally controlled administration. Tanet was a strong proposer of elected governors for many years, and I really should get back to read more of his book "Thailand - A late decentralizing country" which contains his old publications on such topics.

In "Core arguments for and against elected governors", an anonymous author again states the administrative history of the provinces vs. the local governments by municipalities. Sadly, there is no comment possible at that posting, so I have to place my nitpicking here. The article states that from 1972 till 1994 there one one municipality in Thailand - which is wrong as there were already 119 municipalities in 1972. However, what is true is that Chiang Mai was the only municipality of "Thesaban Nakhon" level after Thonburi and Phra Nakhon were merged, and until Nakhon Si Thammarat was upgraded to this highest municipal level. The other odd statement in the article is that BMA is responsible for four provinces, but in real it is only responsible for the special administrative area of Bangkok, which is something like a province.

Whereas in Tanets talk the Provincial Administrative Organizations are mentioned, both articles don't mention that these local administrations were changed into fully elected bodies after the 1997 constitution. The the issue of elected vs. appointed province governors was in the political debate in the 1990s, yet the powerful Ministry of Interior at that time was able to block these proposals, and to get the topic from the agenda it gave the electorate these rather powerless local governments in parallel to the centrally controlled province administration.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

New Roman Catholic diocese

It is totally quiet with any changes of the civil administrative subdivisions, so to fill the void here its a good distraction that just yesterday the Vatican has erected a new ecclesial subdivision in Thailand. The diocese of Chiang Mai was split, and a new diocese with the seat in Chiang Rai was erected [Vatican news release].

The new diocese of Chiang Rai (Dioecesis Chiangraiensis, สังฆมณฑลเชียงราย) covers the province Chiang Rai, Phayao, Nan and Phrae, and the district Ngao of Lampang province. As only 0.7% of the population are catholic, it is only responsible for 18062 people which in other countries would be just one parish. Joseph Vuthilert Haelom has been appointed as the first bishop, and will take the post officially when he is ordained and consecrated later this year. The Nativity of Our Lady church in mid-town Chiang Rai has become the cathedral of the new diocese.

It was interesting to observe how fast after the news release the English Wikipedia got a first article about it, and quickly thereafter a German and Polish version popped up as well - there seem to be many more active editors working on Catholicism topics than the country subdivisions. The bishop so far only has a German biography, and for the cathedral there's so far only the Wikidata entry I created. I now have to create new maps for the dioceses in Wikipedia as well, those created in 2005 have a very limited resolution, as at that time SVG maps were not yet supported. The only difficulty will be to correctly add the boundary between the dioceses of Bangkok and Chanthaburi, which don't follow the administrative boundaries in Chachoengsao province. But at least of the new diocese I am already done, as you can see by the map embedded in this posting.