Monday, May 5, 2008

Local government entities of Surat Thani province

Working through the Tambon administrative organizations (TAO) creations, I have now completed the province Surat Thani, the one I am most interested in. The full list of these entities would be quite lengthy, so I only mention the most important ones and the notable changes until recently.

The numbers of the various entities are as follows.
  • 2 cities (Thesaban Nakhon) - Surat Thani and Ko Samui
  • 2 towns (Thesaban Mueang) - Tha Kham and Na San
  • 25 subdistrict municipalities (Thesaban Tambon)
  • 113 Tambon Administrative Organizations (TAO)

To be complete, one also has to mention the Provincial Administration Organization (PAO), which is also a local government entity, in contrast to the provincial administration as a central government structure. All of the above local government entities have an elected council, however its number of members, tasks and budget differ between the different types.

Before the 1990s there were just three municipalities in the province - the town Surat Thani established in 1930 as a sanitary district and upgraded to town in 1935, the subdistrict municipality Na San created in 1940, and subdistrict municipality Tha Kham created as a sanitary district in 1955 and upgraded to a municipality in 1986.

In 1999 the 18 sanitary districts were changed into subdistrict municipalities. A somewhat special case was the sanitary district of Ko Pha-Ngan. This was originally created in 1973, when the sanitary district Ko Samui was split, abolished in 1976 and recreated in 1990. 8 of the sanitary district dated back to the 1950s, 2 from the 1960s, 5 the 1970s, and finally 1 from 1989, 1990 and 1991 each.

Talad Chaiya subdistrict municipality officeThe TAO were created in three steps - 11 in 1995, 20 in 1996, and 89 in 1997, altogether 120 TAO. 2004 three TAO were abolished and their area added to the neighboring municipality - Talad Chaiya into Talad Chaiya (the photo shows the municipality office of Talad Chaiya), Khao Pang into Ban Chiao Lan, and Phang Kan into Phanom. Three further TAO were since upgraded into subdistrict municipalities - Wat Pradu and Khao Niphan in 2005 and Chang Sai in 2007. Also in the last years were four upgrades of municipalities - 2000 Tha Kham became a town, 2004 Na San became a town, 2007 Surat Thani became a city, and just few weeks ago Ko Samui became a city as well.

In case you read closely - there were 120 TAO, of which 6 where abolished or upgraded. However above I say there currently are 113 TAO, so there must be one missing. This is the TAO Bang Kung, which was listed in the 1995 TAO creations, but actually the complete area of that subdistrict was added into the town Surat Thani in 1994. So either the 1995 creations were actually effective before the enlargement of the town, and the abolishment of the TAO was forgotten in the announcement, or it was listed in error in the creation list.

As there are 131 subdistricts within the province, most of them are administrated by a TAO. Only 19 have no TAO for itself. Of these, there are 8 municipalities which cover exactly one subdistrict - of course the three upgraded TAO, and further Kanchanadit (Kadae), Talad Chaiya, Phum Riang, Ban Chiao Lan (Khao Pang) and Na San.

Somewhat special is also the district Ko Samui, which completely forms the municipality Ko Samui, thus none of the 7 subdistricts have a TAO. Other subdistricts which have neither a TAO nor municipality centered in them but in a neighboring subdistrict are Bang Kung (Surat Thani) and Phang Kan (Phanom).

As the municipalities and sanitary districts originally only covered the densely settled areas and not full subdistricts, there also several subdistricts partially administrated within a municipality, and partially by the TAO named after the subdistrict.

Finally, there also 6 TAO created in 1958, which were later changed into Tambon Councils - Makham Tia, Tha Thong Mai, Maret, Thung, Khlong Sai and Maluan.

One website on the local government units in Surat Thani is the one of the Suratthani Provincial Office for Local Administration (สำนักงานท้องถิ่นจังหวัดสุราษฎร์ธานี), but as it is completely in Thai I don't know what is the purpose of that office.

The map below shows all the locations of the offices of these local administration entities I know so far, which are sadly just 8 out of 141. I have also added a photo and the URL into the placemarks. While many of these entities have websites, they rarely add a location map, and getting the location from a Thai address is far from trivial. So any additions for the map are welcome, I will update it whenever I have anything new.

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