Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day of the local administration

The Thai cabinet, the council of the ministers, is a major place where policies are decided or laws are prepared to send into the parliament. In order to make sure I won't miss any development in the case of the planned province Bueng Kan, I started to monitor the actual cabinet agendas - the English language press usually only covers a subset of the points, even the news outlet of the Public Relations Department only covers part.

So I found this obscure government website collecting the complete cabinet agenda lists since 2000, and thanks to the update scanner plugin I get easily notified on any new agenda list posted there. The ones I guess are the ones most relevant to this blog topic are those by the Interior Ministry, found by the abbreviation "มท." in the second column.

Though there was nothing exciting which went through unnoticed by the English press, one item discussed in the cabinet meeting on June 22 was interesting anyway. Item 49 on that list reads
การขออนุมัติกำหนดให้วันที่ ๑๘ มีนาคม ของทุกปีเป็น วันท้องถิ่นไทย
Ask for permission to make March 18 of every year the Day of Thai Local (Administration)
The name of this new commemorative day วันท้องถิ่นไทย (Wan Thong Thin Thai) includes the word ท้องถิ่น meaning local, also found in the Thai name for the Bangkok district museums (พิพิธภัณฑ์ท้องถิ่นกรุงเทพมหานคร) or the name of the Department of Local Administration (DOLA, กรมส่งเสริมการปกครองท้องถิ่น).

Whereas the cabinet meeting agenda only gives a very short summary on the rationale behind this proposal, an article at the Thai online news site gives the whole story behind it. Thus the reason for choosing March 18 is that on this day in 1906 the very first rural sanitary district (sukhaphiban, สุขาภิบาล) Tha Chalom (ท่าฉลอม) was created, which in turn developed into the city Samut Sakhon. Though this act by king Chulalongkorn was the start of the local administration in Thailand, it only really started when decentralization came into focus in the 1990s.

The proposal was created by the Department of Local Administration in cooperation with the Provincial Administrative Organizations Council, the National Municipal League and the Subdistrict Administrative Organizations League, and submitted to the cabinet on March 2 2010.

March 18 has been a local commemorative day in Samut Sakhon city already, this year in fact the celebrations took place March 17 to 19, and included worship ceremonies, a beauty contents, parade and concerts as well as a exhibition honoring King Chulalongkorn. So lets see if next year on this date will have ceremonies all over the country at the local administrative offices.

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