Friday, November 27, 2015

What's wrong with

One of the Thai government websites which gave me lots of early information on planned administrative changes - especially the municipal upgrades - is the site of the Office of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Interior (สำนักกฎหมาย สำนักงานปลัดกระทรวงมหาดไทย), found at However, for more than a year already, I get nothing but connection timeouts when I try to open that site. Even services like "Down For Everyone Or Just Me" show it offline. Yet, strangely, Google still is able to access it, so the Google cache is an awkward backdoor to access the site. Even stranger - a month ago I noticed that with the free proxy from the site was accessible, so luckily I used the chance to download all the new board meeting transcript files then. Because - it seems the webmaster now blocked access by that proxy, it shows a 403 error.

I really wonder what is going on there. Has the Ministry of Interior placed this website behind the planned Great Firewall of Thailand already wrongly set to filter in the wrong direction? Or did just a stupid network administrator screw up the routing tables which effective blocked the site from foreign access? Needless to say that its impossible to notify anyone by email about this problem, the email address on the website is not working, and also all other standard email like webmaster don't work.

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

The error that the other server returned was:
550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable

The connectivity problem seems to be not just this one website, also many of the province websites hosted within the MOI don't work either, e.g. Ubon Ratchathani gives timeouts for me but shows online at "Down for everyone".

Would be curious how much the accessibility of has been limited, so I invite you to leave a short comment stating whether you can access the site and from where you did.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pa Sak TAO upgraded to municipality

Today, the upgrade of the subdistrict administrative organization Pa Sak (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลป่าสัก) in Lamphun province to a subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลป่าสัก) was announced in the Royal Gazette. The change became official on November 6, exactly 4 years after the last local election - even though all local elections are still halted and mayor can continue to stay even after their normal term in office ends, in this case the Ministry of Interior timed the update with the end of the electoral term, same as they did in past when it still made sense to avoid too frequent local elections.

The upgrade was discussed in the Board to consider draft laws in their meeting on September 7, thus it was rather quick to be announced in the Gazette given that there are still hundreds of upgrades still not yet published there, waiting for more than eight years already. Maybe this time it was so fast because it was the first and so far only one planned for the fiscal year 2016, and even just the third for the common year 2015.

Though there is no Wikipedia article yet about this local government unit, I have created and filled an item in Wikidata to record the information - and since it is a reference for some of the statements in that item, even this Royal Gazette announcement now has its own Wikidata item.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New district in Chumphon proposed

Thai Wikipedia Potapt notified me about a news report that in Chumphon province plans to create a new district. According to that report, the district Tha Sae (อำเภอท่าแซะ) in the north of the province is too large to be manageable by the district office. In fact, this district is the largest one of Chumphon by ara, and also with 83,293 citizen (December 2014) the second-most populous one after Mueang district - interestingly the news report wrongly claims it is the third. Also, its location at the boundary to Myanmar makes it more difficult to administrated. As the name of the new district "Thepharat" (อำเภอเทพรัตน) is proposed.

Interestingly, the territorial extent in this proposal means that not just some subdistricts get split off to form the new district, but also the subdistrict Rap Ro - number five in the map above and the largest of the subdistricts by area, population and number of administrative villages - should be split between the two new districts. The villages 10, 14, 19, 21 and 23 making up the northern part of the subdistrict would become a new subdistrict and then be part of the new district. This would not just make it the first new subdistrict since 1996 (not counting those in Bangkok), it would also mean that the local government of Rap Ro would either be the first TAO to cover area within two districts, or would have to be split as well.

However, it will still take some time until this district can be created - unlike the two proposed districts in Yala province it even hasn't been discussed in the board to consider draft laws nor by the cabinet of ministers, both steps before the law could proceed.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Pronunciation of the administrative units

The standard romanization using the RTGS standard gives a fair approximation of the correct pronunciation of the Thai names, but with some limitations - both the vocal length and the tone are ignored, and one should not read the romanized name like an English name. The Bang Sue meme only works when reading the romanized name of that Bangkok district like it were written in English. Using the transcription of the Thai names into the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) instead avoids all three problems, then Bang Sue (บางซื่อ) becomes "bāːŋ sɯ̂ː". Also those cases where there seem to be two subdivisions sharing the same name - like the two districts Bang Sai in Ayutthaya province - disappear with this transcription.
  • Bang Sai (บางไทร) is read as "bāːŋ sāj".
  • Bang Sai (บางซ้าย) is read as "bāːŋ sáːj".
In 2011 an anonymous user added the IPA transcription for several districts into the English Wikipedia, however sadly not to all. While I can do the RTGS romanization myself well already, I just know the basics of IPA, and the tone rules of written Thai are still too confusing for me, so I can neither check those IPA transcriptions nor add new ones. But I could add the IPA into my XML structure, and then run my bot to add those values to the items in WikiData. Though its just one small data field among many others, and its not available for all, at least it now makes that information from Wikipedia directly machine-readable without the need to parse English text. If anyone can provide me with more IPA transcriptions, I'd be happy to make sure these will find their way into Wikidata and Wikipedia...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blog cited in academic publications

For academic publications it is essential to have lots of references, and maybe even more to get cited by other publications - the only way to quantify the quality of a publication is how often it gets cited in other publications. When I studied (a field totally unrelated to the geography, politics and history topics I write here) I never made it to have anything published, and I have been out of the academic world since then. As blogs same as other amateur written, not peer-reviewed content is often not considered cite-worthy, I discovered that at least in four publication my content was cited. Rarely, a scholar or student contacts me directly and I am always happy to help if possible, yet out of the four citations I could find with Google I only had a short conversation with the author of the last one. As I have no access to any academic journal, only those paper which happen to be freely accessible on the Internet, so if there are any further citations I haven't noticed yet I would be curious to know.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Area transfer between Wiang Chai and Siri Wiang Chai municipality

Yesterday two announcements were published in the Royal Gazette which modified the boundaries between the subdistrict municipalities Wiang Chai (เทศบาลตำบลเวียงชัย) and Siri Wiang Chai (เทศบาลตำบลสิริเวียงชัย).
  • Modification of boundary of Wiang Chai municipality (ประกาศกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง เปลี่ยนแปลงเขตเทศบาลตำบลเวียงชัย อำเภอเวียงชัย จังหวัดเชียงราย) [pdf]
  • Modification of boundary of Siri Wiang Chai municipality (ประกาศกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง เปลี่ยนแปลงเขตเทศบาลตำบลสิริเวียงชัย อำเภอเวียงชัย จังหวัดเชียงราย) [pdf]
The sanitary district Wiang Chai was created in 1985 covering the area around the district office of Wiang Chai [Gazette]. It thus covered parts of the subdistricts Wiang Chai and Mueang Chum. The remaining parts of Wiang Chai subdistrict got its local government with the creation of the TAO Wiang Chai in 1997. 1999 the sanitary district - like all sanitary districts - became a subdistrict municipality. The TAO was upgraded to a subdistrict municipality effective September 6 2013, and had to be renamed to Siri Wiang Chai as the name Wiang Chai was already taken.

If I read the text of the announcements correctly, the administrative villages 1, 8, 9, 13 and parts of 19 get transferred from Siri Wiang Chai to Wiang Chai. Comparing the maps in the two new announcements with the one from 1985, its the southern boundary of Wiang Chai which gets changed from a straight line to a much more complicated shape by the added areas, also the northwestern boundary has been moved so it now same as the boundary between the subdistrict Wiang Chai and Wiang Nuea. There however remains one strange boundary - boundary point 6 cuts off a small area of Mueang Chum municipality from its main part, maybe to be simplified in a future boundary redefinition.

A more detailed description of this change should be found in the transcript for the meeting 33 of July 13 by the board 2 considering draft laws, but sadly the webserver seems to be misconfigured to be inaccessible outside Thailand, so I cannot read that file.
Wiang Chai municipality boundary

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

@Amphoe competition

While I was in Thailand in summer, I collected the paper version of the first two issues of the @amphoe magazine published by the Department of Provincial Administration. Issue one my wife picked at the province hall in Trang - the staff there was very reluctant to give it away, and refused to give her a copy of issue two even though there were many boxes for delivery in that office. So I got issue two from the province hall in Phatthalung instead, while I was doing a short photo walk in the government complex my wife picked the magazine, this time from a much friendlier official. While waiting for me, they discovered a photo competition, asking to send photos with the magazine, so just for fun my mother-in-law posed in front of the province hall showing the magazine and submitted the photo. Everyone already forgot about that competition, so I was quite surprised to see my mother-in-law in the latest Facebook post showing the winning photos.

Hope that short she won will be large enough I can wear it as well when visiting next time - without my interest into these topics nobody of my family would have ever noticed that magazine anyway. And I am now looking forward to see the third issue of the magazine, it is already advertised on Facebook so at least the online version should show up soon. Lets see if it gives me chance for some nitpicking again...