Friday, May 19, 2017

The Constitutional System of Thailand: A Contextual Analysis

The book "The Constitutional System of Thailand: A Contextual Analysis" by Andrew Harding and Peter Leyland is on the list of books I intend to buy for some time already, yet both its relatively high price and my backlog of unread books kept me from buying it yet - somehow hoping for an updated second edition, as obviously the just recently promulgated constitution isn't covered in it yet.

Luckily, Google Books over to preview many pages of the book, not just the snippet view it has for most, so it is possible to have a look into it. As I stumbled into it when looking for the term "Thesaban" in Google Books, the section on the local governments had caught my attention - but sadly I quickly found several mistakes or inaccuracies in that part. If there'd be second edition, I hope these can be fixed.Though the local government isn't the prime focus of the book, discovering these inaccuracies make me now hesitate to invest into this book.

Starting on page 125, it lists the numbers of the municipalities. Oddly, it says are 25 cities - a number valid in 2010 - and a total number of 1456 Thesaban, which was correct in 2008. The book was published in 2011, but apparently the numbers from various years have been mixed up together. It also states that cities have 50,000 citizens, towns 10,000 (or being a provincial capital) and subdistrict municipalities at least 5,000. Though these numbers are defined in the municipality act, it doesn't mean all the municipalities today have these numbers. Especially the sanitary districts upgraded in 1999, but also several of the TAO upgraded more recently have a smaller population but were still granted that municipal status.

The coverage of the rural-based local governments is much more misleading, especially the Provincial Administrative Organizations (PAO)
Other than in Bangkok and Pattaya, the Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO) administers local government at the provincial level. This comprises two bodies:
i) an administrative body headed by the provincial governor; and
ii) an assembly of 24-48 members elected for a four-year term.
The Provincial Governor, renamed Chief Executive Officer (CEO), is elected from the council and is no longer appointed directly by the MOI. Provinces are divided administratively into a number of districts, headed by district officers who report to the CEO.
This completely mixes up the province as the central government unit, and the PAO. The province governor is still appointed by the MOI, and always has been, and it wasn't renamed to be CEO, but was only supposed to act in the more business style when Thaksin was prime minister. The PAO mayor however is directly elected since 2004, only before was elected by the council. Also the mention of Pattaya is a bit misleading, as it suggests that Pattaya is a special province like Bangkok - but in fact the citizen of Pattaya also elect the Chonburi PAO mayor and council.

A similar mixup happens at the subdistrict level.
[...] bit in rural areas 7,255 Tambon Administrative Organizations (TAOs) provide local government at the sub-district level. These TAOs govern an area with a relatively small population. Each one is headed by a sub-district chief (Kamnan). [...]
There was never a TAO for every Tambon, and only at the very beginning the Kamnan served as TAO chairman ex officio, then the chairman was elected by the council, and since 2004 the position was renamed to mayor and since then elected directly. But the Kamnan as the central administrative position remains as well in parallel, but also there never was a Kamnan in every Tambon.

As the final rural government structure the "Sukhapiban" or sanitary committee are mentioned - though the law governing them is still in effect, all of them were upgraded in 1999, but this isn't mentioned in the book.

No comments: