Thursday, December 30, 2010 is back

After nearly 3 months of downtime, the website has suddenly come back to life. When I last checked for it mid-December the nameserver was still not responding and thus the site inaccessible, but now yesterday it worked again. Thus apparently the administrator of the nameserver managed to switch it on again, and the website reappeared as nothing ever happened.

Thus the content is the same as before, most notable there are still no entries for the district Galyani Vadhana created one year ago, and even Wiang Kao created in 2006 is still not present. The names of the district officers are more up-to-date, yet the last reshuffle from January 2010 wasn't added yet - for Mueang Surat Thani district still lists Chonosak Wanitcharoen(ชลอศักดิ์ วาณิชย์เจริญ), who is now permanent secretary of Surat Thani province.

Now the site is still working again, maybe I should make a complete mirror for myself, as the next critical point will be the expiry of the domain registration on January 15 - hopefully this time the administrator does the extension early enough and the domain does not fall to a domain grabber. But even then, the site will still be there under the IP address until the actual webserver will be switched off.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Om Noi upgraded to city municipality

Yesterday the upgrade of Om Noi town (เทศบาลเมืองอ้อมน้อย), Samut Sakhon province, to a city municipality (เทศบาลนครอ้อมน้อย) was announced in the Royal Gazette, making it the 27th city of Thailand. Same as the municipal announcements last week, this change isn't yet covered by the board meeting transcripts available online, thus was decided after mid-September. The announcement was signed on November 11, which I guess is also the date when the change is effective.

Sadly the announcement PDF does not include the map of the municipality - which is not only included in announcements on area changes, but also when the status is changed without any change of area. Without that map, I only relied on the website of Om Noi which only had a small sketch map, thus it took me some time to find their office in Google Earth.

Om Noi was originally a sanitary district, created in 1967 [Gazette]. In 1994 it was upgraded to a subdistrict municipality [Gazette], and in 2002 to a town municipality [Gazette]. While the sanitary district only covered part of the subdistrict Om Noi, apparently with the upgrade to a municipality the area was enlarged to cover the whole subdistrict.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Municipal announcements from December 17

Last week, four changes for municipalities were announced in the Royal Gazette, which all took me by surprise as the board meeting transcript did not cover them - so they may have been decided in the board after September 9, which is the latest one currently available. It would fit, as usually the time between board meeting and announcement seems to be something around 3 month, except those cases where it takes way longer without apparent reason.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sanitary districts 1905-1932

As mentioned before, chapter 7 of Thailand: The Modernization Of A Bureaucratic Polity by Fred W. Riggs contains a lot of interesting facts on the administrative subdivisions, so I start with quoting from there with the passage on the sanitary districts (sukhaphiban, สุขาภิบาล), when they where first created.
The first efforts to establish local self-government in Thailand were actually made under the absolute monarchy, long before the revolution of 1932. As early as 1905, an experiment in local self-government was launched with the creation of a sukahpibahn, or "sanitation district," in a commune of Samud Sakorn province, a short distance southwest of Bangkok. Provision was made for the creation of a board all of whose members were appointed ex officio, namely, the village headmen with the commune headman as chairman. (A number of villages or mu ban constitute a commune or tambon, whose head is chosen from among the headmen of the constituent villages.) This board was authorized to collect certain taxes, largely on houses and building construction, to be used for the maintenance of local public works, such as roads, bridges, and lights, and to enforce local sanitation rules in a congested coastal fishing area.

In 1908 and again in 1915, new acts were promulgated expanding the powers of the sukahpibahn, providing that similar boards could be established elsewhere on the recommendation of the provincial governor and the monthon (region) head. By the time of the recolution, it is estimated that there were some forty-five sukahpibahn.
The two acts mentioned are the 1908 sanitary district act and its 1916 amendment.

According to the Royal Gazette announcements, the sanitary districts created after the first one were
  • 1909: Nakhon Ratchasima, Chanthaburi, Songkhla
  • 1910: Phichai (i.e. Uttaradit), Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chonburi
  • 1911: Nakhon Pathom
  • 1912: Phuket
  • 1914: Chiang Mai
  • 1915: Phitsanulok, Ratchaburi, Photharam, Nakhon Sawan
  • 1916: Krung Kao (i.e. Ayutthaya), Song Phi Nong, Ban Pong
  • 1917: Samut Prakan, Saraburi, Lopburi, Prachinburi, Suphanburi, Nakhon Nayok
  • 1918: Singburi, Phichit, Trat, Rayong
  • 1928: Hat Yai
  • 1930: Surat Thani, Phetchaburi, Uthai Thani, Chum Saeng
  • 1931: Trang, Chachoengsao, Ban Mi
These 34 together with Samut Sakhon were all the originally created sanitary districts, as the 1935 Gazette announcement on the upgrade of sanitary districts to municipalities states that out of the 35 (and not 45) entities 32 become town municipalities, two become subdistrict municipalities and 1 (Chiang Mai) becomes a city. Sadly the other 34 sanitary districts are not listed by name in there.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

License plate images for Chiang Rai and Saraburi

Last Friday, two new provincial license plate graphics were published in the Royal Gazette. Actually, only one is new, as for Saraburi I wasn't able to see any significant difference to an earlier one from 2006. For Chiang Rai, while some elements were reused, the graphic is different from the previous one announced in 2005.

The graphic for Saraburi [Gazette] shows the seal of the province in the middle placed on a large sunflower field. The main symbol of the seal is Wat Phra Phutthabat, the most important temple of the province. Both the temple as well as the sunflower fields are the major tourist attractions of the province. The graphic from 2006 is almost identical, only the colors are less intense.

The graphic for Chiang Rai [Gazette] is dominated by the Phu Chi Fa cliff, from where the sea of clouds can be seen at sunrise if weather allows, with the lower hills peeking through the morning mist. The tower to the left probably refers to Wat Rong Khun. the famous white temple built by renowned artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. However the yellow color - the temple is actually bright white - and the clock confuse me a bit. In the 2005 version, this tower wasn't present yet, and the cliff and clouds had a different design. The rising sun was omitted in the new graphic however.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Google Earth imagery for Thailand

Since Google started to push new imagery to Google Earth twice a month I no longer reported on these updates here, as with the more frequent updates there often were only very few areas in Thailand which received an update, and I also did not want this blog to become just to be yet another Google Earth blog. However, the latest update last week was a really massive one, and not only in Thailand it seems they rolled out much more new data than usual.

Already when the inofficial Google Earth Blog reported the new imagery I noticed areas with new data - either because I could remember the area to have no hires yet, or because I noticed that there were district office locations I had not yet worked into my XML because I could not make out the building in the lores imagery. Most notably, these were parts of Phatthalung province (sadly not yet the town of Phatthalung itself), and an area east of Nan town. But with the official KML where Google marks all the updated areas I learned I found just a small portion of all the changes. In the boundary area to Myanmar in Tak province as well as in Rayong and Chanthaburi at the east coast I could finally get district office location very exact, which are now in my XML and my own KML of administrative offices.

As I mentioned Phatthalung before - while the new hires area comes short of covering the provincial capital, it covers the area between the town and the lake. And while browsing around there, I noticed that it has the old palace of the province governor in there, now yet another item on my long list of places I still want to visit in Thailand. This location also nicely confirms the history of Mueang district - in 1917 the district was renamed to Lampam, the subdistrict where this palace is located. In 1924 however the administration was moved westwards towards the newly built train station.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ministry of Interior color scheme

In the list of commands from the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) to its subordinate offices I found one from November 18 titled การกำหนดสีสัญลักษณ์เพื่อเสริมสร้างภาพลักษณ์ของกรมการปกครอง (Definition of symbol colors for the Ministry of Interior). While the first pages of the PDF are scans, luckily the final pages contain real text and it was therefore possible to do a copy-and-paste to get a quick machine translation.

The two colors are a light blue (dodger blue) and yellow, or with their RGB values 1E90FF and FFFF00. Blue is the color for Friday, as the Ministry of Interior was created on Friday, April 1 1892. It also is the color of credibility, loyalty, coolness and peace, which are the maxims of the MOI. Yellow is of course well-known as the color of HM the King, who was born on a Monday; though this symbol of loyalty to the King has been turned into a political symbol by the PAD and now is no longer purely a royal symbol. Symbolically, the color is supposed to mean friendship, optimism, encourage life and creativity - which are the maxims of the DOPA offices.

More interesting than the symbolism of these colors are the actual orders within this document. This color scheme is supposed to be used in documents like brochures as well as in the various websites. Interestingly as one example is mentioned, even though that site has disappeared even before that document was published. Not sure if this means the disappearance of that site was accidentally and for two months nobody at DOPA noticed it - well, would not be too much surprising if recalling the protecttheking website disaster.

Other places where this color scheme is supposed to be adopted is at district offices, so if a reader happens to see some newly painted fences, flower pots, or other items around the district offices in these colors I'd like to hear - being away from Thailand most of the year I can hardly notice these minor changes myself.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday linkage

Old province hall of Ubon Ratchathani
Photo by Isantraveller
Isantraveller visit the Ubon Ratchathani National Museum, which is located in the historic province hall. That building, located right next to the city pillar shrine, was in use 1918 to 1968, until it was replaced with a new larger building close-by. The pages of the Fine Arts Department on this museum don't add much to the posting.

Though I haven't yet made it t Ubon Ratchathani myself - I only been to the Northeast once, and just made it to Phimai - I have created a small map with the main administrative buildings of the city. But since they are all located rather close together it's hard to miss any of them anyway.

View Ubon Ratchathani administration in a larger map

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New font in Royal Gazette announcements

New font [Source]
Old font [Source]
Starting on last Monday, the PDFs from the Royal Gazette have changed their look a bit, as the font used in the documents has changed to a much more rounded one. This new font is Thai Sarabun PSK, which was created by the National Software Industry Promotion Agency as being the new standard font. It is also supposed to most close with the recommended font outline as defined by the Royal Institute, but also being royalty free open source and thus could be used without any copyright concerns. The previously used font Angsana UPC, one of the standard fonts from Microsoft Windows. The introduction of these fonts was decided by cabinet in September 2010.

The font can be downloaded from SIPA - however use that link with care, as apparently a spammer was already able to insert his malicious links at the top of the article. I cannot confirm if the install wasn't replaced with malware spreading one.

The biggest advantage of this new font is however that the PDFs now contain real Unicode text. With the previous font, it was almost Unicode, but some of the vowels and tone marks were using private Unicode characters, probably to make these characters be positioned correctly on the higher consonants. But then when copying the text to clipboard, or trying to let Google translate such a PDF completely, fails as then many words loose their vowels and the translation turns into glibbersh. But that was already an improvement to the very first full digitally PDFs found in the Royal Gazette website, as those were done with a Mac and had a 8bit codepage instead - making it almost impossible to get the Thai text into someting readable. For a little comparison see the following table:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bueng Kan interpellation

When I was looking for any mention of จังหวัดบึงกาฬ (Bueng Kan province) on the website of the Thai parliament to see if the law on the creation of the province has been already discussed there, or has been at least scheduled, I instead found a document titled กระทู้ถามที่ ๑๑๘ ส. เรื่อง การจัดตั้งจังหวัดบึงกาฬ - interpellation 118 S. about creation of Bueng Kan province.

This interpellation dates from May 6 2010 - formulated by Thewarit Nikonthet (เทวฤทธิ์ นิกรเทศ), Member of Parliament from Nong Khai representing the Social Action Party - and unlike the interpellations I find in the Royal Gazette no official answer to the request is included, so it probably has been rendered obsolete by the decision of the cabinet in August.

But the one thing I now understood - probably obvious to any Thai used to the common acronyms and abbreviations - is that why those interpellations I find the Royal Gazette all have a number with the letter Rho Ruea (ร.) behind it. The letter simply indicates which of the institutions is addressed in the interpellation.
  • ร. stands for Government (รัฐบาล, Rattaban)
  • ส. stands for the House of Representatives, the Lower House of the Thai parliament (สภาผู้แทนราษฎร, Sapha Phu Thaen Ratsadon Thai)
  • ว. stands for the Senate, the Upper House (วุฒิสภาไทย, Wutthisapha Thai)
While there are some older interpellations for the Senate or the House of Representatives found in the Royal Gazette, all of the current ones are directed to the Government.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mueang Phon Phisai in 1884

Another interesting quote from the book Isan Travels by Etienne Aymonier. On February 5 1884 he stayed in Phon Phisai, a small Mueang east of Nong Khai at the Mekong river, and gave a detailed description of this small province in his travelogue. I only have a few pages of this book at hand right now - will buy it next time I'm in Bangkok for sure - but it seems in other chapters it has similar descriptions of the Mueang he visited. As many of the minor Mueang are nowadays districts, this should give quite some material to enhance the history sections of the corresponding Wikipedia articles. The one on Phon Phisai also had almost nothing about the history prior to the 20th century.

Note that the coordinates given in the first sentence are clearly wrong as it would have placed Phon Phisai into Phrae province, Francis Garnier systematically had the longitude about 3 degrees off to the west maybe due to a faulty clock - the correct location of the modern district center is at 18°1′19″ N, 103°4′38″ E.

Mœuong Phon Vi Saï, at 18°01′00″ N, 100°39′00″ E (according to Garnier), was a village of about 150 huts dispersed among fruit trees along the right bank of the river. The terrain, quite low, flooded by the river's high rises, did not allow the cultivation of rice in that immediate vicinity. There were five pagodas, each with seven or eight monks. The population, which was Laotian, cultivated rice and cotton. There were a few Chinese there who sold fabric and pottery and who bought bastard cardamon, which could be collected in the forests. [...]

The chau had as titles: phrah saurinhah sakdi santhon chao Mœuong Phon Vi Saï; or, according to others phrah visaï saura dêt chau Mœuong Phon Vi Saï. The province was bordered in the east by Sayahbouri at the Keng Sadâk, a four days' march from Phon Vi Saï; in the south by Nong Han, in Ban Pho, half a day's march from Phon Vi Saï; and in the west by the Houé Luoung, which separated the province from Nong Khaï. In the north this small province, entirely on the right bank, was bordered by the Great River. Nevertheless, people said that Mœuong Pasoum on the Nam San came under the jurisdiction of Phon Vi Saï and still sent its tribute there. In Phon Vi Saï there reportedly were 900 registered men and 200 outside. The annual poll tax was six ticals per married registered man, three ticals for an elder, and two ticals for a single young man. The tribute taken to Bangkok was thirty-six catties. The inhabitants complained that the tax was too heavy. The authorities had requested a reduction from Bangkok, but in vain.

When my two men were in Phon Vi Saï, the chau had been dead for some time, leaving behind only young children. His first cousin, the oppahat, provisionally replaced him while waiting for his nomination as incumbent; the two dignities had been in the family for a long time. The dignities of ratsevong and ratsebout belonged to another family, which also passed from father to son. [...]

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New municipality geocodes

When DOPA redesigned their website in spring this year, the pages which contain the population statistics were reset to the 2009 state, and also the last update of the geocode list was reverted. When I now took yet another look at the website, there was a link to the statistics, but not using the server name but instead simply an IP address. To my surprise at that address it not only had the latest population statistics, but also the geocode list was there, and even this was even last updated in October. Thus it is interesting to compare the changes within the last year.

While the only change in main file, ccaatt containing the codes for Changwat, Amphoe, Tambon, are the codes for Galyani Vadhani district, the rcode file which contains the municipality codes is more interesting. Most of the changes in that are the deletion of the obsolete codes, for example those of the Sakha Tambon and a few municipality codes assigned but not used yet. Then there are upgrades of municipalities and name changes, yet the only really new ones are the following codes.
It's also interesting to look at how long it took from the creation of these municipalities until they were listed with a code. Krathum Lom dates from 2007, Thap Ma from 2009, and all others from 2008, so about 2 years until they assigned the code. Note that most of the other new municipalities created in the last 4 years have no code yet, and especially in the case of Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai there are not enough codes free for all of them.

I don't the reason why the codes aren't assigned directly when the municipality is created, yet my guess is that it receives a code once they have the municipal registration office running - this list is named RCode, so the R may stand for registration, and also in the DOPA population statistics most of the new municipalities don't show yet as well, so maybe the numbers are still those reported by the Amphoe registration office.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Municipal upgrades annoinced

End of November three status changes of municipalities were announced, two TAO to become subdistrict municipalities and one subdistrict municipality to become a town. All of them been mentioned in the board meetings earlier this year.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Provincial slogan for Bueng Kan

In a Thai blog I found one posting about the forthcoming Bueng Kan province, which started with the slogan of the province. As the province isn't yet created I am of course wondering if this slogan is already official - and actually, who creates these slogans anyway. For the symbols of the provinces I only guess that the emblems or seals are created by the Fine Arts Department, as that one also published books about them; I vaguely remember to have read that one tree was bestowed to a province by HM the Queen, but which agencies are actually responsible to assign slogan, tree, flower, emblem and flag to a province is something I yet have to find out.

But anyway, I found the same slogan also in the forum of mybungkan, so it seems it is rather sure to be the correct one. A closer look at it shows the first part is (almost) identical with the slogan of the district Bueng Kan - only that one has an additional "ศาล" after "นาง" in the very first sentence. Hopefully my translation is not too far from the real meaning.
สองนางศักดิ์สิทธิ์ อิทธิฤทธิ์หลวงพ่อใหญ่
แหลงน้ำใสหนองกุดทิง สุดใหญ่ยิ่งแข่งเรือยาว
หาดทรายขาวเป็นสง่า น่าทัศนาแก่งอาฮง
งามน้ำโขงที่บึงกาฬ สุขสำราญที่ได้ยล

Two blessed women, magical Luang Po Yai
Clean water resource Nong Kut Thing, greatest boat race
White sand is majestic, worth viewing A Hong cataract
Beautiful Mekong at Bueng Kan, really delightful

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Change of area of provincial court Chaiya

As the provincial courts (ศาลจังหวัด) not necessarily are responsible for a whole province - some of the larger provinces have more than one provincial court - their area of responsibility can occasionally change as well. On November 25, an announcement was published in the Royal Gazette which changed the area of responsibility for the provincial court Chaiya, in the northwest of the province Surat Thani [Gazette].

The province of Surat Thani is in fact divided into four judiciary areas, Chaiya covering the northwest, Ko Samui covering the islands to the northeast, Surat Thani itself the central area. Another court for the southern area located in Wiang Sa has been announced in 2007, but not yet opened, but I have included it into the map already as the first announcement already lists the districts to be covered. Ko Samui is also rather new, it was created in 1996 and opened in 2006. Chaiya is much older, it was created and opened in 1947.

The change in area announced now is the reassign of Vibhavadi district from the authority of Surat Thani court to Chaiya. When Chaiya court was created in 1947, the area of that district was still part of Khirirat Nikhom district, and the announcement states on its last page that this change of area was made possible since Vibhavadi was elevated to a full district in 2007.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Local elections in Surat Thani 2011

The websites for the provincial election commissions have now been all moved into the main election commission website. I have only checked the one for Surat Thani, which has all the former contents removed and now is almost empty - except that I found the calendar of local elections for next year in there. Actually, it's not the calendar of the election dates but the calendar of the end of terms, the election is then normally within 60 days after the end of term.

As one can see from the list below, the elections will start in September or October. It may also be the chance to upgrade some of the TAO to municipalities, which is normally done at the end of the terms.
  • August 4: Surat Thani city
  • August 10: Ko Pha Ngan subdistrict municipality
  • August 10: TAO Chaiyakhram, Don Sak (only Mayor)
  • October 6: TAO Makham Tia, Mueang (only Council)
  • October 6: TAO Krut, Kanchanadit
  • October 6: TAO Ko Pha Ngan (Only Council)
  • October 6: TAO Ban Tai, Ko Pha Ngan
  • October 6: TAO Don Sak
  • October 6: TAO Pak Phraek, Don Sak

  • October 6: TAO Khao Hua Khwai, Phunphin

  • October 6: TAO Tha Rong Chang, Phunphin

  • November 10: TAO Ban Yang, Khiri Rat Nikhom

  • November 16: Chang Sai subdistrict municipality, Kanchanadit

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rename of Muban in Tak

Another administrative village name change was approved meeting 3/2010 on August 10 of the board to consider name changes and now published in the Royal Gazette. This time, village 13 of Mae Tuen subdistrict, Mae Ramat district, Tak province was renamed from Ban Thiwa Boeitha (บ้านทีวะเบยทะ) to Ban Loe To (บ้านเลอตอ).

The administrative village was just created in 2004 [Gazette] by splitting it from village 10 Ban Huai Pong (บ้านห้วยโป่ง). Apparently the name chosen then was not much liked by the villages, because if I read the announcement right the change was requested by the population.

Also interesting to note - in the announcement on the creation, the coordinates for the boundary are all wrong. Instead of e.g. MU 353065 it should read MV 353065 - the original coordinates are all in Myanmar already. I only noticed that because I wanted to add the location to this posting, and thus the official coordinates would have been the easiest way to find out where the village is actually located.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Municipality administration in 1950

A very interesting quote from the book Public Administration in Siam by W.D. Reeve, first published in 1951.
All this is, on paper, an imposing organization. In practice, it cannot be said that local self-government has been a marked success. The Assemblies are far too large and unwieldy; a Commune Assembly has not less than nine members and a City Assembly thirty-six or more. The Assemblymen, untrained in debate and inexperienced in public work of this nature, are often incompetent or worse. The electorate is apathetic; usually less than five per cent trouble to record their votes. The Councillors and executive employees of the municipality are often inefficient, and not infrequent corrupt. The locally-collected revenues are quite inadequate to cover expenditure, and large loans and grants have to be made by the central Government.

The Government has not failed to realize this rather sorry state of affairs; though for political reasons - especially because many of the municipal councillors are also prominent politicians with a following - the Government cannot abolish local self-government altogether. An expert committee was recently set up to examine the whole system and to suggest any necessary reforms. This Committee has now made its report and has prepared a draft Act which would thoroughly reorganize the whole machinery. In particular it has been proposed to place the management of each municipality under a trained administrator (a sort of city manager as employed in cities in the United States), to inaugurate a more efficient system of regular audit of accounts, and drastically to reduce the size of Assemblies. It is believed that this draft act has been under the consideration of the Council of Ministers and has been recently been discussed in parliament.
The act which is referenced here is most likely the Thesaban Act of 1953 (พระราชบัญญัติเทศบาล พ.ศ. ๒๔๙๖), which was not just an amendment of the 1939 Thesaban act but a whole new law. My Thai is not good enough to read 36 pages of law text, let alone find the differences between the earlier one and this one, but what I can note are the differences between the current municipal administration and the aspects mentioned above. The size of the Assemblies has been reduced either with that law or with a later amendment, as today there are between 12 (subdistrict municipalities) and 24 (city municipalities) assemblymen, compared to the 36 or more mentioned above. I only know about the hired city manager as a concept used in the special administrative area of Pattaya, the mayors of the normal municipalities were either elected by the assembly and more recently directly elected by the voters. But I have no idea if in the 1950s there were hired managers as well, or if this was only under discussion and not made it into the law.

Another thing which has changed in the last 60 years is the funding, at least with the decentralization in the 1990s the funding has much improved, and as one can see by the often very representative municipality administration buildings at least some have ample money to spend. Also the voter turnout has improved, though I don't know if this is due to an increased interest in the local administration or the fact that voting is now mandatory, nowadays the turnout is usually above 50%, at least for those cases where I have found the detailed local election results. On qualifications of the assemblymen today I cannot comment as I simply don't know well enough about it, but doubt it is same bad as 60 years ago.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bueng Kan set for voting in parliament

Shortly after I discovered the draft law on the parliament website, the law to create the new province Bueng Kan was first discussed in parliament Thursday last week. However, as not that many MPs were still present in the evening, the speaker of the house moved the actual voting on the act to today. Sadly I will be disconnected from web till Sunday, so I cannot report the result directly.

Though totally ignored by the English press, in Thai it had quite a lot of reports on the proceeding of the legislation. On Thai blog posting which summarizes the open issues quite well - at least as far as I can understand it with the help of Google Translate.

First, the draft law said that Nong Khai constituency 2 will become the constituency of the new province Bueng Kan, which would mean that no by-election in the two constituencies is necessary. However, as one can find in the 2007 constituency definition (Page 27, Item 53), this constituency includes the district Fao Rai, which will not be included into Bueng Kan province. Therefore, to be exact the 50,000 citizen of Fao Rai may require an by-election - even though the parliament might get dissolved early next year anyway.

The other issue is with the senate, which consists of 150 senators, 76 of them elected in the provinces and the remainder being appointed. Now with the increase of number of provinces, will the number of senators be increased to 151, or will one of the appointed senators be forced to resign? The official translation of the constitution however makes it clear that there is no problem right now:
Section 111: The Senate shall consist of one hundred and fifty members to be elected from each province, one member being elected from each province, and to be selected in the number equivalent to the total number hitherto stated deducted by the number of elected senators. In the case of an increase or decrease of the number of provinces during the term of office of elected senators, the Senate shall consist of the remaining senators.
Thus, the senator elected from Nong Khai will remain in office until the end of term of the senate, and only then the there will be 77 elected senators. It will only become tricky if the Nong Khai senator Khajon Saiyawat (ขจร สัยวัตร) resigns or dies, as this case seems to be omitted from the constitution. Only sensible answer would be to hold a by-election in both Nong Khai and Bueng Kan together, as if the split of province hasn't taken place.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Municipal boundary changes announced

On November 8, two area changes of municipalities were announced in the Royal Gazette.

Already approved by the board meeting on July 21, 2009, some area of the TAO Bueng Khong Long (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบึงโขงหลง) gets transferred to the subdistrict municipality Bueng Khong Long เทศบาลตำบลบึงโขงหลง. As usual the announcement on the TAO [Gazette] does not include a map, whereas one can compare the map in the announcement on the municipality [Gazette] with the an earlier one from the creation of the sanitary district Bueng Khong Long in 1993 [Gazette] - which shows a really strange boundary leaving some of the central urban area out of the municipality.

The other one was about the boundary of San Phranet (เทศบาลตำบลสันพระเนตร) [Gazette] with
San Na Meng (เทศบาลตำบลสันนาเม็ง) [Gazette]. As there is no announcement found in the Royal Gazette on the creation of these municipalities - they were upgraded from TAO status in 2008, thus two of the hundreds of missing announcements - the only thing one can read from the map in the two announcements this time is the location of the municipality office...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Constitutional amendments

Yesterday and today both the Senate and the House of Representatives have discussed several proposed amendments to the 2007 constitution. At the time of writing this posting I don't know yet any details on if and which of the amendments will get added to the constitution, most of the news articles are rather skeptical any of these amendments will make it. Out of the proposed amendments, the ones on the election system for the House of Representatives are the ones which fit within the scope of this blog. I had mentioned one major item already when it was first proposed by the constitutional reform panel - the return to the single seat constituencies introduced with the 1997 constitution.

The relevant articles of the constitution are 93 to 98, which right now call for 480 MPs - 400 from constituencies with up to three seats, and 80 party list MPs elected in eight regions with 10 MPs each. The proposal made by the government would change this to 500 MPs - 375 from a single seat constituencies and 125 from a single nationwide party list.

As since I posted on those changes last time I had finished reading the book "Myths and Realities: The Democratization of Thai Politics" I have now much more background on the rationale for introducing the single-seated constituencies it first place. The main idea was to strengthen the role of political parties, which traditionally are nothing but a loose grouping of individual politicians, who easily switch their party alliance whenever they see a political (or even monetary) gain from it. The multi seat constituencies are thought to support the factionalism, as each group of contenders running under the same party label in one constituency easily form the basis of a faction with one leader and two followers who strongly depend on their leader and thus support him after they are elected. However, in a single-seat constituency each candidate would be on his own, and thus would be more a party member than a faction member. Well, that was the theory, but during Thaksins terms there still were many factions within his Thai Rak Thai party, mostly held together by his money, the prospect of political power, but also because changing parties shortly before new elections was made more difficult.

But as these factions were existing since the end of the absolute monarchy, sometimes as factions with in parliament, sometimes as factions within cabinet, and the 1997 constitution didn't really change much on it, I have no hope the return to single-seat constituencies or the increase of number of party list MPs will have any significant effect now. Maybe the proposal made by Michael H. Nelson in 2007 of using the election system from Germany would change more - half of the MPs in Germany are direct candidates from constituencies to have the close relationship between electorate and candidate, yet the number of seat of each party in parliament only depends on the party list votes, with party list MPs filling up the seats available for each party not yet covered by direct candidates. But I doubt that the Thai parties are ready for such a change, as they would need a real program of policies prior to the elections - and banning whole parties and their leading politicians for illegal acts done by single executive members does help them to get strong enough for such a voting system.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vice province governor transfers

On November 13 the Interior Ministry has approved the list of transfers for the vice province governors (รองผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัด), a total of 69 officials get transferred to new positions. Don't worry, I won't list all of the names here, for anyone who wants the whole list in Thai is found on this local Phuket news site, as one of the transfers bring back Weerawat Janpen (นายวีระวัฒน์ จันทร์เพ็ญ) to Phuket as his final position before retirement - he had been district officer in Mueang Phuket district in 2001. The transfers become effective November 29.

The total number of 69 transfers breaks down into five categories:
  • 19 vice governors get transferred to a new province
  • 10 vice governors become acting vice governors of another province
  • 14 deputy governors (ปลัดจังหวัด) become vice governors
  • 7 other officials become vice governors
  • 19 deputy governors become acting vice governors

Friday, November 19, 2010

New provincial license plate images

Two new provincial license plate backgrounds have been announced in the Royal Gazette, both replacing older designs.

The Chanthaburi license plate [Gazette] shows gemstones to the right and some kinds of fruits (Rambutan, Mongosteen and Durian) to the left. In the background is the rising sun pointing to the location in the East, and a hill with two waterfalls. Fruits (and especially Durian) as well as gemstones are the most important products from this province, and in the hills of the province many waterfalls are popular touristic locations.

In fact, the graphic is identical with the one published in 2004 [Gazette], or instead of a scan the announcement now contains a vector drawing (however saved as a JPG in the PDF), so only the colors look much more clear now. I have uploaded the old graphic to the Picasa album as well.

For Lopburi [Gazette] I am not sure what the graphics is supposed to mean. The statues in background look like Khmer style stone carvings and thus probably point to the many Khmer ruins still present in the province - most notably Prang Sam Yot as one of the attractions of Lopburi town. I however cannot get the meaning of the four puppets in front - or are they in fact monkeys, as the wild monkeys in the city are also very iconic for Lopburi.

The graphic looks very similar with the previously announced one from 2005 [Gazette], only the arrangement of the puppets and statues is changed a bit - see it here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Draft law on Bueng Kan province creation

Apparently the process of creation of the new province Bueng Kan has made another step towards completion, as I could now find the corresponding draft law on the website of the House of Representatives, together with an envelope letter dated November 9 and signed by prime minister Abhisit. Don't know if any of the three readings of the law in parliament have been scheduled yet, but looks like it won't be this year anymore when the law becomes effective.

As it is the first time I could see the draft law, I therefore give a short summarization of the various sections - provided I did not misunderstand the text.
  • Section 1: The law is named "Royal Act to create province Bueng Kan" (พระราชบัญญัติตั้งจังหวัดบึงกาฬ)
  • Section 2: The law takes effect 90 days after being published in the Royal Gazette
  • Section 3: The districts Bueng Kan, Seka, So Phisai, Bung Khla, Bueng Khong Long, Pak Khat, Phon Charoen and Si Wilai are split off from Nong Khai province and form Bueng Kan province.
  • Section 4: The district Bueng Kan is renamed to Mueang Bueng Kan.
  • Section 5: Transfer of assets, debts and rights of Nong Khai province for the relevant district to the new province
  • Section 6: The provincial administrative organization (PAO) Bueng Kan gets created.
  • Section 7: Transfer of assets, debts and rights of Nong Khai PAO for the relevant district to the PAO of the new province.
  • Section 8: Orders issued by Nong Khai PAO relevant for the area of the new province and still in effect continue until the new PAO issues new orders.
  • Section 9: Tax rates for new province is same as for Nong Khai until ordered otherwise; all taxes collected in the area of the new province get to the new province.
  • Section 10: The Members of Parliament of constituency 2 of Nong Khai becomes representatives for Bueng Kan, whereas constituency 1 stays for Nong Khai.
  • Section 11: Election of PAO council for both remaining Nong Khai province and new province within 120 days after law becomes effective.
  • Section 12: Election of PAO chairman for both remaining Nong Khai province and new province within 120 days after law becomes effective.
  • Section 13: As long as no committee of PAO, Thesaban and Tambon for new province is established, the one from Nong Khai still continues authority over the new province.
  • Section 14: The Interior Ministry should supervise the law being made into effect.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New books

Thanks to the quite special selection of antiquarian books at Tamarind Books and a business trip to the US which helped me save a lot of shipping cost, I have added a few new books to my library about or closely related to the topic of this blog.

The first one - Provincial administration and local government in Thailand by William A. Sommers - I had already discovered some time ago, but except the fact that one copy was available I wasn't able to find any details about it. It turns out to be just a pamphlet of 13 pages (plus one chart), published in 1969 by the Department of Local Administration. Sommers worked as USOM advisor to the Thai Ministry of Interior in the late 1960s.

Similar, but with 30 pages about the double size, is the pamphlet Local Government in Thailand by Daniel Wit. It was published by the Ministry of Interior in 1958, and according to the preface is an extract of the book "Comparative Local Government and Administration" published by the Thammasat University.

Also only a pamphlet is the Thailand Population Census 1960 Changwad Series: Changwad Chiengmai, which I bought just out of curiosity. I would have preferred to catch the Surat Thani issue, but since it is basically nothing but the census numbers, which for the 2000 census were available for free as Excel sheets. I hope the National Statistical Office will publish the full data from the older census when this year's census is complete, but I am sure it's just in vain.

Wilfred D. Reeve's Public administration in Siam, originally published in 1951, also just has 93 pages and gives an overview over the whole public administration, thus the territorial and local administration is only a small part of this book. But what is striking is that the two most pressing problems of the administration in 1951 were the corruption and nepotism in nomination of government officials. While the corruption is not as open as it was back then, the last 60 years hasn't changed that much in Thailand it seems.

Politics in Thailand by David A. Wilson is more about the government politics, parliament, political parties. Published in 1962 it is also covering the same time-period as the other books, but as it focuses on the higher political levels it seems to be the one least related to this blog.

And finally from a different antiquarian, the book Thailand: The Modernization Of A Bureaucratic Polity by Fred W. Riggs, published in 1967, is also a very interesting read. Especially chapter seven which covers the territorial administration gives quite a lot of details of these entities in the past, it is the first place where I found anything about the regions which were created as a supplement of the Monthon.

Thus a lot of new material to work through, and I am sure I can make several postings with interesting quotes from these books. It is just sad that the copyright laws won't allow me to digitize all the pamphlets and make them available for the public, even though I doubt anybody could use the rights commercially. These works are probably only of interest for a few academics and one crazy amateur researcher...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rename of Muban in Chiang Mai

Another decision from the meeting 3/2010 on August 10 of the board to consider name changes was published in the Royal Gazette last Thursday. One administrative village in Chiang Mai province changes its name. Muban 8 of Mueang Kaeo, Mae Rim district is renamed from Ban Thung Khao Nao (บ้านทุ่งข้าวเน่า) to Ban Thung Khao Hom (บ้านทุ่งข้าวหอม).

The announcement gives as the reason for the change that while the old name had no special meaning, the new name - literally translated as Village of Jasmine Rice Fields - however is supposed to encourage the rice farmers.

The name change was approved by the board on August 10, the announcement was signed on September 23 by deputy province governor Chumphon Saengmoni (ชุมพร แสงมณี), and published in the Gazette on November 11.

Sadly as the meeting transcripts for the board to consider name changes isn't published on any website I don't know if there may be further Muban name changes pending, additionally to this and the already published name changes of four local government units.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Minor districts in Siam

Rikker's blogpost on his starting of the Thai Gutenberg project made me rediscover one book in the Thammasat Electronic Rare Books site titled "การตั้งกิ่งอำเภอในประเทศสยาม", which translates to "Creation of minor districts in the country of Siam". It was published in 1938 by Thanom Vibunmongkhon (ถนอม วิบูลย์มงคล), who was province governor in the 1940s in Pathum Thani, Chanthaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan. So this short 35 page publication was maybe something like his graduation paper when beginning his career in the bureaucracy.

I have no idea if this work is already in the Public Domain - according to Thai law 50 years after the death of the author, but I haven't found any more details about Thanom than those three governor posts - but would love it if this book would be really digitized now. While the scanned PDF is of course better than nothing, having it as a Thai text file would allow many more things like searching for words or, especially useful for me struggling with learning Thai, copy-and-paste it to Google Translate for a first overview or copy words to the Longdo dictionary. But I somehow doubt an OCR software would work on that font used in the book, at least a native Thai proofreader would be mandatory.

The parts which I could understand in that document already were a few Royal Gazette announcements copied verbatim as examples, i.e. the creation of Wang Nuea in 1938 [Gazette], the creation of minor districts in Monthon Udon in 1926 [Gazette] - the latter even with a wrong signature date of 1917 (2460) instead of 1926 (2468).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bueng Kan in 1884

Etienne Aymonier
1883-84 the French explorer Étienne Aymonier traveled through the northeast of Siam, including a travel up the Mekong river. He wrote down about his travel later in the tree-volume book Le Cambodge, all of which are available in an English translation published by White Lotus books. While I already had the volume on the Khmer ruins in Isan, the translator himself stumbled on my blog and made me aware that the volume titled Isan Travels: Northeast Thailand's Economy in 1883-1884 has both very valuable information on the administration in Isan before the thesaphiban reforms as well as a short description of Bueng Kan. Thus the paragraphs on the area which will soon become the latest province give a good historical perspective, so I quote the most relevant parts here.

On Friday, February 1, leaving Ban Tha Kaï (or Khaï) at 6 A.M., Top and Kim stopped after one and a half hours in Ban Beng Khan, on the left side, where they had to change pirogues and oarsmen. This village, where they spent the whole day, was opposite the confluence of the Nam San, an unimportant tributary of the Nam Khong. I will report here the information that the locals gave my two Cambodians about this watercourse and the region it irrigated. [...]
The inhabitants of Ban Beng Khan also gave my men information summerizing quite precisely the adventure that happened in 1882 to Dr. Neis, the report of which the courageous explorer has since given in Le Tour de Monde. [...]

Map of Bueng Kan area
A few paragraphs before Aymonier mentions that the rapids of Keng Sadok marked the boundary between the Mueang Phon Vi Saï (Phon Phisai) and Sayahbouri (Chaiburi, near Tha Uthen), thus the village of Bueng Kan itself belonged to Phon Phisai whereas Bung Khla district to Chaiburi, the boundary between the two provinces was probably about the same as between the two districts nowadays. Too bad I have no complete lists of the many changes done in the administration during the thesaphiban reforms of Prince Damrong, but I'll try to write up a detailed administrative history of the area of Bueng Kan province later.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Local government units name changes announced

The name changes for municipalities and TAO approved in the board meeting on August 11 have been officially announced in the Royal Gazette last week - thus it was rather fast from the board to consider name changes on August 10, next day the board to consider draft laws, on September 17 the announcements were signed by Deputy Interior Minister Boonjong Wongtrairat (บุญจง วงศ์ไตรรัตน์ - who just lost his seat in parliament because the Election Commission found him and other guilty of violating the anti-corruption laws by owning shares of companies who work for the government), and on November 5 the change was officially published.
  • Samrong Tai town (เทศบาลเมืองสำโรงใต้), Phra Pradaeng district, Samut Prakan province renamed to Pu Chao Saming Phrai (เทศบาลเมืองปู่เจ้าสมิงพราย). [Gazette]
  • Sattahip subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลสัตหีบ), Sattahip district, Chonburi province renamed to Khet Udom Sak (เทศบาลตำบลเขตรอุดมศักดิ์). [Gazette]
  • TAO Song Hong (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลสองห้อง), Mueang Nong Khai district, Nong Khai to be renamed to Pho Sawang (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลโพนสว่าง) in accordance to the rename of the subdistrict earlier this year. [Gazette]
  • TAO Suak (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลสวก), Mueang Nan district, Nan to be renamed to Bo Suak (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบ่อสวก) in accordance to the rename of the subdistrict earlier this year. [Gazette]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Another province governor transfer

Thanks to Richard Barrow, who spotted it in a Thai online news site and alerted me, the cabinet has withdrawn the province governor reshuffle list from their meeting on August 31 and September 28, and created a new reshuffle and promotion list in their November 2 meeting. Though however with regards to the province governor, the list is almost identical to the one from end of September, with only two changes:
  • Thani Samarotkit (ธานี สามารถกิจ), originally transferred from the deputy governor post Chonburi to Pathum Thani, becomes governor of Buriram instead.
  • Phirasak Hinmueangkao (พีระศักดิ์ หินเมืองเก่า), originally staying in Buriram, get transferred to Pathum Thani.
According to Khun Wisarut, the main political commenter (though sadly always strongly leaning to the PAD viewpoint) on the 2bangkok forum this change was done as Phirasak Hinmueangkao is expected to deal better with the red shirts still active in Pathum Thani. And as governor of Buriram he is connected with Bhum Jai Thai de-facto leader Newin as well.

Just wondering now if the two governors were counted as governors of their original assigned provinces for the last month making Thani one of the governors with the shortest terms in office, or whether the new transfer is effective retrospective and thus the original one nullified. The governor lists at the Buriram or Pathum Thani websites right now have no update yet. For my XML I have chosen the first interpretation, guessing the new transfer takes effect the day after the cabinet meeting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Municipality Day

While looking though the "interesting articles" section of the website of the Department of Local Administration (DOLA), I stumbled on one which was titled สาร รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงมหาดไทย เนื่องใน "วันเทศบาล" วันที่ 24 เมษายน พุทธศักราช 2550 (Speech of the Minister of Interior on the Municipality Day April 24 2007). Now just few months ago I wrote about the newly introduced "Day of Local Administration" which includes the municipalities as well, so I was a bit surprised to see that the municipalities now have two commemorative days.

The Municipality Day (วันเทศบาล) was introduced in 1990, at least in was officially announced in the Royal Gazette in September 1989. If I read the text of this announcement correctly it does not give the rationale for choosing this date, but I can suggest a very likely explanation - on April 24 1934 the first Thesaban Act was promulgated by publishing it in the Royal Gazette.

So yet another entry in my Google Calendar, so I won't miss any official celebration of this kind in case I am in Thailand on any such special days.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Interpellation to create new Muban

On Monday the reply to interpellation 1112 was published in the Royal Gazette, in which the member of parliament Phumpat Pachonsap (ภูมิพัฒน์ พชรทรัพย์) asked for the split of the administrative village 9 of Phathai subdistrict, Tha Uthen district, Nakhon Phanom to set up a new administrative village. If I understand the reply by the Ministry of Interior correctly in the garbled Google translation (even more garbled than usual due to problems extracting the Thai text correctly from the PDF), the request was denied due to both budgetary reasons as well as being not necessary. But much more interesting are the points stated in the reply as being the preconditions for creating a new administrative village. These were approved by the Thai cabinet on May 14 1996, and define two different sets of rules depending on whether the Muban is in a densely populated area or in a rural area. I will write up a list with those items in details later. Only thing that amazes me a bit is that while this same set of rules are in effect for so long, the number of newly created Muban dropped so significantly after 2007 - only reason I could think of is the political chaos since the coup, which might have hindered new projects to be started.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mueang of Isan

Another quote from Volker Grbowskys "Kleine Geschichte Thailands", in the chapter on the history of the Isan.
In dem halben Jahrhundert zwischen 1778 und 1826 stieg die Zahl der müang im Isan von 13 auf 35; für die Erschließung des Landesinneren erwiesen sich vor allem die Gründungen von Ròi Et (1775), Ubon Ratchathani (1791), Kalasin (1793) und Khòn Kaen (1797) als äußerst wichtig.

In the half century between 1778 and 1826 the number of mueang in the Isan increased from 13 to 35; most important for the development of the central area were the founding of Roi Et (1775), Ubon Ratchathani (1791), Kalasin (1793( and Khon Kaen (1797).
Now, I already wrote about the number of mueang in Isan before, quoting an article by the same author in the book "Regions and national integration in Thailand", in which the author gave the numbers for some selected years between 1826 and 1880.
  • 1826 - 33
  • 1840 - 54
  • 1860 - 70
  • 1880 - 100
  • and no new Mueang after 1885
The number for 1826 contradicts with the new quote, but when rechecking the article I noticed that in there the above mentioned numbers for 1778 and 1826 were also given few paragraphs before - so in fact the article already contains both contradicting numbers.

And to my shame I have to admit that I still haven't worked through the scans I received last year, which would have allowed me to confirm which of the two numbers of 1826 is wrong.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Old district office of Ko Lanta

Photo courtesy Camille
Camille from Ko Samui has been traveling to Ko Lanta in the Andaman Sea, which administratively forms a district of Krabi province. By coincidence he found the old district office, a beautiful old wooden building in the historic town center on the southern island. While the building is supposed to be a local museum now, it looked like it was closed down and not kept well recently - which is quite a shame. Though Ko Lanta is still a lesser known tourist attraction, there are lots of resorts on the island already which could bring enough visitors interested in a well-kept local museum.

According to one website I found, this Koh Lanta Community Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์ชุมชนชาวเกาะลันตา) was opened in December 2007 and is open daily, yet for Camille it looked like it has been quietly closed down in the meantime. Hope it is only a temporary closure, or a misunderstanding by Camille - I'll keep a look on his blog if he can find out any more details.

The building looks rather similar with the historic province hall of Nonthaburi, which is located right at the Chao Phraya river next to the Nonthaburi pier. Though the building there also has parts where it isn't restored that well yet, it has the local museum for Nonthaburi inside which is very much worth a visit, even though it is still only covering few rooms and is planned to have many more rooms and exhibits.

The modern district office of Ko Lanta is in the middle of nowhere still on the mainland, from the satellite image in Google Earth it looks just like most of the district offices today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

While the Website seems to be dead - at least since October 5 the name server responsible for the domain hosted within the DOPA IP range does not answer anymore - the Department of Provincial Administration had started a new website with district information some months ago, found under the address That website seems to be still in not yet fully set up - only about half of the districts are featured there so far, and for many it has even less information than had, but it seems like this is the site which was announced last year, labeled 2.0 by me then.

One big drawback IMHO is the fact that they chose to use the Microsoft map server as the basis, which not only has far less hires satellite data than Google Earth for Thailand, but also requires the installation of the Silverlight browser plugin. Also still a big problem is the navigation, I haven't yet found an index from where I could easily choose province and district to jump to the corresponding information page. In fact, I only stumbled upon the district information pages when Google found me the list of former head district officers for Lan Saka district, Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Sadly, the structure of URL for the district information pages does not automatically create the index, they all follow the form[17..429]
with the numbers starting 17 for Ko Chang and as of today ending with 429 for Cho-airong. As I haven"t found the index page, I had to create it myself by downloading all the pages and parsing them to get the district and province name. Much smarter would have been to use the TIS1099 geocode of the province instead, e.g. use 8414 for Khian Sa district instead of the rather arbitrary 39 it now has.

But as usual, this discovery leads to more questions than answers - will this become the replacement for, taking over the information which was present there? Or will com back to life once a webmaster discovers the malconfigured nameserver? Or will fall to a domain grabber when the domain expires in January next year? When will the new amphoe website cover all the 878 districts?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wikipedia in Print

From time to time I search for the words like "tambon" not only in Google, but also in Amazon, especially in case their search inside books might return something Google Books does not have yet. That way I stumbled upon a book titled "Subdivisions of Thailand: Monthon, Provinces of Thailand, Amphoe, Administrative Divisions of Thailand, Thesaban, Tambon, Boriwen, Sukhaphiban", which looked like it have exactly the content I am interested about. But when reading the description in more detail I noticed that this book is nothing else but the Wikipedia articles from the category Subdivisions of Thailand printed. Looking around more, there are thousands of similar books from the same publisher with different sets of Wikipedia articles placed together, each printed individually as a Print on Demand book, but each having a unique ISBN number already.

Now this is all perfectly legal, provided that they follow the license of Wikipedia and cite the source correctly. And even though I have written the articles within that specific book myself to a great deal, I don't recommend anyone to buy this book - first I know that the Wikipedia articles are way from complete, there are still lots of points I would love to add if only I could get them researched well enough. When you order the book, you also have no control on which version of the article will be used, most probably the current one, but how to be sure that that version is clear from any vandalism? Also, the price of about 15 US$ for just 52 pages is IMHO way overpriced, especially as not a single cent goes to the author unlike it would in any normal authored or edited book, the only cost they have is the pure printing and shipping.

The best way to use Wikipedia is to read online, as that's the only way to get the latest version of the text, have the ability to check older versions if some part seems dubious and smells of vandalism, be able to interact using the discussion pages or even change the text yourself if necessary. But for those book lovers who prefer to read in actual paper versions, or to be able to read where no internet is available or to create for a technophobe friend there's a great way to get your custom-made book. For quite some time already, Wikipedia has added ways to export article collections as a PDF file as well as get a Print on Demand book. Within few minutes I have reproduced the same contents as the above cited book, which would cost you just 8.90 US$ - and can also alternatively be downloaded as a PDF to print yourself or put in your eBook reader. Too bad that this book won't become a bestseller for sure - even if I would get the six dollar price difference I won't become rich.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Enclave Mueang

Few weeks ago, a new German book on Thailand titled "Kleine Geschichte Thailands" was published, written by Professor Volker Grabowsky, whom I already knew as the editor of the anthology "Regions and national integration in Thailand". As it is written for a non-academic audience, I did not expect to learn much new from it, but already the first pages had a very interesting speciality of the administration at the beginning of the 20th century.
Die politische Zugehörigkeit eines müang hing von den herrschaftlichen Bindungen der dort lebenden Bevölkerung ab. So gehörte der 40km südlich der Stadt Chiang Rai gelegene Distrikt (amphoe) Phan noch zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts als Enklave verwaltungstechnisch zu Müang Lamphun. Phan war nämlich in den 40er Jahren des 19. Jahrhunderts von Siedlern aus Lamphun erschlossen worden, die auch nach der Auswanderung weiterhin ihrem alten Patron, dem Herrscher (cao müang) von Lamphun unterstanden. Diese Bande wogen stärker als geographische und wirtschaftliche Faktoren, die eine Zugehörigkeit von Phan zu Chiang Rai nahegelegt hätten.
Now as most of my readers don't understand German, and trying to translate the above with Google translate will only create garbled nonsense, here's my translation of this paragraph.
The political affiliation of a mueang depended on the stately dependencies of its population. For example, the district Phan located 40km south of the city Chiang Rai, at the beginning of the 20th century formed an enclave and belonged administratively to Mueang Lamphun. Phan was founded in the 1840s by settlers from Lamphun, who after their emigration kept their relationship with their old patron, the ruler (chao mueang) of Lamphun. This relationship was stronger than geographical and economical factors, which would have suggested Phan to be a subordinate of Chiang Rai.
The oldest mention of any changes for Phan district in the Royal Gazette that I am aware of is from 1912, when the minor district Mueang Phan was upgraded to a full district [Gazette].

Monday, October 25, 2010

Red dot in Google Earth

In a thread at the ThaiVisa forum - which I only noticed because a friend of this blog guided the readers here for more detailed information - the question came up what the red dot in Google Earth found for every Tambon is supposed to mean.

The above screenshot shows the area around the office of the subdistrict municipality Wat Pradu (เทศบาลตำบลวัดประดู่), located between Surat Thani city and Phunphin. The yellow marker is from my collection of office locations, and as I have passed the office several times I can even show a photo of the office complex - though a not that good one as I was on the wrong side of the big highway. One can see well that the red dot for Wat Pradu is located almost exactly on the office buildings as well. And when looking at the same area in Google Maps, instead of the red dot the name of the subdistrict shows up at the same location.

If this were the case for every Tambon I would have no problem to get XML full with all the locations, and it would be boring to write about these dots. For another office close by, the TAO Bang Chana (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบางชนะ), Google places its dot into a palm plantation in the north of the subdistrict, whereas the placemark in Longdo Map points to an actual building in the very south. Though it is close to the city Surat Thani I haven't been able to verify that location yet, but in this case I believe the Thai map of Longdo much more than Google.

Another thing is that it seems Google has exactly one red dot per subdistrict, so they cannot correspond to the local government units exactly - there are subdistricts with two of them, for example Khanom subdistrict, Khanom district, Nakhon Si Thammarat has both a subdistrict municipality and a TAO, and the red dot points near the district office but nowhere near neither of the two local government offices. and for Talad subdistrict within the city of Surat Thani the red dot is within a private villa, even though there is no administrative office for this subdistrict at all. I'd be curious where did Google get the coordinates for these placemarks at first...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Three years of blogging

Time flies like an arrow, it is already three years since I started this blog, and still not running out of topics. Actually quite the contrary, especially with the now forthcoming new province there are even more things to write about, and its not rare I have postings for several weeks already prepared. It was also the coverage of this plan which made the readership of this blog jump by more than 20 readers well above the 100 reader mark, at least if I can believe Feedburner. But also in the normal access statistics with Google Analytics the month of August was the first one with more than 1000 visitors. This boost of readers is really welcome, as otherwise the numbers were stagnant in all of 2010, and I already thought I have reached most of those interested in the very technical topics of this blog. But oddly still the most popular posting by far is the one on the board game "König von Siam" two years ago. To illustrate the slow but steady growth of readership, below are the graphs both for the direct website hits as well as the feed reader count.

Website hits
Feed readers
Another good development was that Gwillim Law, the webmaster of the statoids website (see my old posting about it) updated his Thailand pages and added a link to this blog. Though it does only give a few extra visitors so far, these are visitors who are probably really interested in these topics and will likely become regular readers.

And last but not least my humble blog was also chosen as September's Blog of the Month by the prime Thailand blog directory Thailand Voice.

As I always do in this annual review posting, I invite every reader to participate in this blog by posting comments - I publish all except spam and those which I think might get me into trouble in Thailand - sometimes an innocent questions turns out to become an interesting posting. If you don't want to discuss publicly, you can also contact me by email.

There are also many more ways to help me to provide a great read here - like helping me to access resources I cannot reach being based in Germany (thanks Ian), collecting the coordinates of administrative offices to make my list more complete, or hinting me to news reports, academic papers or books which contain something to write about.