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.

Friday, March 16, 2018


The fact that a good graphical display of data is usually more important (and more difficult) than the collection of the bare data was one thing I learned from the talks in the Wikidata Con last year. Sadly drawing things myself is something I have no talent at all, but lately two of the Facebook feeds I read started to post nice infographics almost daily, of which I will present two here.

Entity number as of 2017-12-31
Source: DOPA fanpage
The DOPA fanpage posted the graphical display of the 2017 entity numbers I presented here earlier this month. Of course the numbers are the same, it being displayed this way of course looks more catchy than the plain table I posted. I don't get why they chose to display mountains for the central administrative units, and their height totally not matches the numbers. For the local administrative units, it was of course very difficult to find any icon to symbolize the Provincial Administrative Organizations (PAO) - it's already difficult to explain the function of those to someone not familiar with the Thai administrative system, and guess many Thai don't know about them either.

Labor force survey 2018-02
Source: NSO
The second graphic is from the facebook feed of the National Statistics Office (NSO). Most of the infographics there are of course in Thai only, but at least one they also posted in an English translation - the Labor Force Survey of February 2018. It shows interesting factoids like the numbers of employees by sector (agriculture still dominants) or the unemployment rate by education - interestingly Bachelor degree holders have the highest unemployment. Would of course be nice if they'd post translated graphics more often.

While these graphics are great to catch the eye and give information to the reader, they have one big drawback - they are inaccessible to search engines. Textual data can be easily indexed and then found again later, PDF files are already more difficult especially if the raw text isn't embedded and must the retrieved by OCR, but these pure graphics won't ever be found by Google unless they implement much more artificial intelligence into their crawler.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Entity numbers as of December 31st 2017

To round up the annual statistics announcements, today the Department of Provincial Administration did publish the numbers of administrative units. The numbers are as follows, with the 2016 numbers in brackets if there were changes.
  • Changwat: 76
  • Amphoe: 878
  • Tambon: 7255
  • Muban: 75032
  • PAO: 76
  • Thesaban: 2441
    • Thesaban Nakhon: 30
    • Thesaban Mueang: 198
    • Thesaban Tambon: 2233
  • TAO: 5333 (5334)
  • Special administrative units: 2
The only change at all is that one subdistrict administrative organization is gone, which was the merge of Wang Nua TAO and municipality. 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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Royal Gazette announcement of population numbers 2017

Last Friday, the population numbers for each province were officially announced in the Royal Gazette. The numbers were already online on January 1st on stat.dopa.go.th
 as reported here before, so there shouldn't have been any news about this - but oddly there are some differences. Whereas the total numbers are same, the numbers by nationality (Thai or foreigner) differ. These numbers are a bit hidden on stat.dopa.go.th, as they are only listed with the age pyramid data (see my blog post). For the whole country, the Gazette announcement states that there are 875,814 foreigners, whereas the age pyramid data states there are only 680,549.

The difference is that there two more rows in that statistics - the people who are currently moving, i.e. have unregistered at their old registrar but not yet registered at a new location. These are 157,722 people. The even bigger number are 722,717 who are registered only at the central registrar (ทะเบียนบ้านกลาง), but not at any local one. Thus most of the "missing" foreigners are only centrally registered, and thus don't show up as foreigners in the age statistics. I now have to think a bit how to best encode this fact in my XML files, and of course also clean up the previous years for which I already imported one of the numbers.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Population pyramid for Thailand

A German-language news post about a recent cabinet decision trying to increase the birth rate reminded me that I wanted to post about the age distribution in Thailand already. The DOPA statistics page has the age distribution for every year since 1993, and even not just for the whole country but down to subdistrict level. Though my Excel skills aren't that great, I managed to build a automatically calculated graphic.
Age pyramid 2017
One can clearly see in this pyramid that the Thai population is aging, and the number of births has decreased a lot. There are two bulges, one of births around 1970 and a smaller one for births around 1995 - maybe simply those from the 1970 bulge having children at that time. The pyramid is not much different from that of the industrialized countries in Europe.

I am currently adding the national age pyramid data from those DOPA statistics into my XML, and since it is probably easier to use for non-technical users also add them into a spreadsheet. The census reports also include age distribution data, but so far I have only typed in a small part of those - the one from DOPA can be done with copy-and-paste and just a little manual work.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New historical sites

The new year started the same way as the last year ended considering the Royal Gazette announcements - both the final one and the first announcements by the Fine Arts Department on historical sites.

 On December 28th, the historical site Wat Arun was announced [Gazette]. However, as it was already announced before in 1949, this time it probably was only a clarification of the extend of the protected site, as the original announcement did not include any map, but was just a listing of 36 site names all over Bangkok.

Map of Damrong Phaetyakhon residence
January 3rd a new site was announced, the residence of Phraya Damrong Phaetyakhon (Huat Wirawaithaya) [in Thai: บ้านพลตรีพระยาดำรงแพทยาคุณ (ฮวด วีระไวทยะ)], a building now used by the Operation Center for Displaced Persons (สำนักงานศูนย์ดำเนินการเกี่ยวกับผู้อพยพ) of the Ministry of Interior. As it is not far from the National Library I guess I'll have a photo opportunity next time I'm in Bangkok - I probably have to visit the National Library in order to get any detailed data on the 1919 and 1929 census, so far did not find any other library to have anything.