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...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Change of area of Muban in Ubon Ratchathani

Today, the Royal Gazette contained an announcement which changes the boundaries of Ban Na Chumchon (บ้านนาชุมชน), Mu 8 of Sai Mun subdistrict, Phibun Mangsahan district, Ubon Ratchathani. The actual boundary change is probably just minor, the announcement doesn't mention the change and just lists the new boundary. What is interesting however is that the announcement refers to the old boundaries by mentioning that the administrative village was established on May 2 2001 - shortly before the Muban creations were published in the Royal Gazette. Thus this village is now one of the very few where I know the date of its creation indirectly. Sadly none of the ministerial orders on the creation of Muban, especially none so old, are available online, those would give a lot more data to add to my XMLs.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Local government data updated by DOLA

The Department of Local Administration has updated their list of the local administrations, now being as of March 31 2017. The actual numbers haven't changed since the last update, as the last municipal change was the upgrade of Pa Sak TAO in November 2015.
  • Provincial administrative organizations (PAO, องค์การบริหารส่วนจังหวัด): 76
  • Municipality (Thesaban, เทศบาล): 2441
    • City (Thesaban Nakhon, เทศบาลนคร): 30
    • Town (Thesaban Mueang, เทศบาลเมือง): 178
    • Subdistrict municipality (Thesaban Tambon, เทศบาลตำบล): 2233
  • Subdistrict administrative organizations (TAO, องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล): 5334
  • Special administrative units (องค์กรปกครองส่วนท้องถิ่นรูปแบบพิเศษ): 2
Source: summary_25600331

The other files updated are more interesting, as these Excel sheets include the area, population, and the sub-level (Small, Medium, Large). There is one file for the municipalities and one for the TAO.

As DOLA has no unique and stable identifier code for each local administrative unit, and even the one they use isn't included into these sheets, I have to finally do the long-planned programming to be able to convert the data in these sheets into something which fits my XMLs, especially to be able to compare the current data with the previous sheets, for example to see how many for the local governments had changed their sub-level.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Triangulation pillars

While the Thai news - at least in my filter bubble - is full of coverage and speculation of the disappearance of a brass plaque in Bangkok, I'd like to feature a kind of plaques which can be found all over the kingdom, though I so far had only stumbled upon two of them.

The one displayed in the posting is found in Wat Amarin (วัดอมรินทรารามวรวิหาร), an old temple right next to the Siriraj Hospital. Sadly most of the temple ground is used as parking lot for the hospital, but the temple buildings are still a nice view. I went there last year to photograph a lot, as the site is listed as a historic landmark by the Fine Arts Department, however not yet officially registered by a publication in the Royal Gazette. And as last year the Wiki Loves Monuments only covered the published sites, the photos are still unprocessed on my hard disc. So while strolling around the temple ground, I noticed that not really spectacular marker stone - in fact very similar to those found at the province halls in all(?) provinces.


As the plaque is bilingual, its easy to recognize that these kinds of pillars are triangulation points used for mapping purposes. These pillars are erected by the Department of Lands, a subdivision of the Ministry of Interior. Named "Survey Mark" or หมุดหลักฐานแผนที่ (Mut Lak Than Phaen Thi - Major Mapping Pin), all I was able to find about them in Google was the guideline on how these pillars are to be built, also in the Royal Gazette there's only the 1936 law on the survey marks and its amendment in 1958. While for example for the UK some enthusiasts collected the location of all the trig points, I haven't noticed anything like that for Thailand during my short web search. If anyone wants to start such a collection, I'd certainly share my two points...