Friday, June 5, 2009

Administrative villages in Bangkok

On the way towards the district office of Thawi Watthana I noticed an interesting sign, which on the return way I identified as the sign identifying the office of the village headman of village 5 of Sala Thammasop, Thawi Watthana. Which was a surprise in two ways. At first I did not expect to find an actual office for the headmen, as most of the tasks of the headmen are just communicating administrative decisions from the higher level authorities to the villagers. As the building does not look like a office building, I think it is more like a home-office within the residence of the headman.

But what is much more surprising is the fact that there is such a office in Bangkok. Since 1971 Bangkok is a special administrative entity created by merging the provinces Phra Nakhon and Thonburi together with the municipalities within these into a structure which is both central and local administration. Though the outlying areas are still rather rural, I did not expect administrative villages (Muban) there anymore. It was already a surprise when I read in a newspaper article in The Nation in 2005 that the village headmen in the outlying districts are to be removed from office, so in fact the villages were not abolished in the creation of Bangkok metropolis.

I don't know what is correct - was that news report was prematurely and the village headmen remain in office in 2009, or did this headman keep the sign out of protest against this decision, or is he not a headman in the normal sense, but one of the community leaders mentioned in the newspaper article as the last lines.
All 279 of the kamnans and headmen and those previously dismissed may be appointed community leaders if they so desire.

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