Friday, January 29, 2010

Multi-seat vs. single-seat constituencies

One of the amendments under discussion for the 2007 constitution concerns the constituencies for the national lower house election. With this constitution, the multi-seat constituencies in use before 1997 were introduced again. Now the smaller parties in parliament started the move to amend article 190 which deals with the election system to return to the single-seated constituencies in use before the coup. The leading Democratic party however already denied any amendments - probably because they expect to be more successful in the multi-seated constituencies. For a few analysis on this issue see e.g. Thai Politics or Bangkok Pundit, also compare a 2007 article in the Nation.

But away from the current political battles, I found an interesting table in the article "From Phitsanulok to Parliament: Multiple Parties in Pre-1977 Thailand" by Allan D. Hicken, found in the 2001 KPI yearbook, showing the number of constituencies with the different weights. I have added the constituencies of 2007 to the table.
Total Constituencies138142142155156156
Total Seats3473573603913934802
3-seat Constituencies808285888892
2-seat Constituencies495148606160
1-seat Constituencies999774
1 two elections, one in March and one in September, using the same constituency layout.
2 80 seas filled from regional party lists, not directly elected in constituency.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Muban in Sakon Nakhon

Already on January 19, a new administrative village (Muban) in Sakon Nakhon was announced (Gazette). The northern part of village 2 Ban Ngon (บ้านง่อน), Sawang Daen Din subdistrict, Sawang Daen Din district was split off and forms the new village 26 named Ban Ngon Mai (บ้านง่อนใหม่).

Sadly the TAO website has no map of the village boundaries, but what is funny is the map found in the PDF to show the location of the subdistrict - the coloring is the same as in the Wikipedia tambon maps I created, only I never did any for the northeast.

But I have now programmed the conversion of the coordinates as they are given in these announcements. These are written in the MGRS scheme, a different way to write UTM coordinates. To further complicate it, the first three characters - zone number and zone band - are omitted, as these can be deduced directly from the fact that it is a coordinate in Thailand. The conversion was a bit tricky, and I am not fully sure which datum I have to use as with neither WGS84 nor the Thai Indian 1975 they exactly fit a landmark in Google Earth, which however could also be due to a minor misalignment of the satellite images there - I believe the southernmost point should be on highway 22, so I have it all moved up to 500 m to the east. As I did not parse the boundary descriptions but only the explicit coordinates, the map below gives only an idea of the outline of the new village 26 (blue) and the remaining village 2 (red).

View Muban 26, Sawan Din Daeng in a larger map

Update: as you notice in the map, the points now fit the landmarks - I found the error in my datum conversion code.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Delayed municipal upgrades

Processing the list of municipal upgrades published by the Department of Local Administration (DOLA) in December, I noticed that several of the upgrades I found in the board meetings haven't been done yet, at least not till December 15.

Though a few of the board meeting transcripts are missing and thus I may not be aware of all the planned but delayed upgrades, looking at the provinces with most of the delayed upgrades is interesting.
  • 22 in Roi Et
  • 20 in Lampang
  • 18 in Ubon Ratchathani
  • 14 in Kalasin
  • 13 in Mukdahan
  • 9 in Udon Thani
  • 7 in Nakhon Ratchasima
  • 6 in Sakon Nakhon, Chaiyaphum and Phrae
  • 5 in Phitsanulok
  • 4 in Buriram
  • 3 in Phayao and Kamphaeng Phet
  • 2 in Uthai Thani, Sisaket, Nakhon Sawan, Chiang Rai, Trat and Khon Kaen
  • 1 in Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Suphanburi, Phichit, Sukhothai, Uttaradit, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Phanom, Maha Sarakham, Yasothon, Surin, Chainat, Lopburi
Additionally, there's also Bang Ta Then (บางตาเถร) in Suphanburi, which was already planned for 2007, but apparently not yet done as no such municipality is found in the Excel sheet.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Provincial court Phra Pradaeng created

As anticipated, now the second new provincial court has been officially created as well. Published on January 21, the announcement titled พระราชบัญญัติจัดตั้งศาลจังหวัดที่อำเภอพระประแดง จังหวัดสมุทรปราการ พ.ศ. ๒๕๕๓ officially created the new jurisdiction, becoming effective the day after publication.

As Richard Barrow found out, this does not mean that the new courthouse started operation already. The article in the Prachachat newspaper says that before starting operation it needs another royal act, until then all cases in the jurisdiction of the new court (i.e. the district Phra Pradaeng and Phra Samut Chedi) will still be handled by the provincial court Samut Prakan.

So, by this act the Ministry of Justice is entitled to build the new courthouse and hire the personal, the date it will actually start operation isn't publicly set yet.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Changwat Fang

Map showing location of proposed province FangWhen I checked for information on the district names in Chiang Mai which are present in the geocode list, but do not exist (yet), one result was that I became alert on the forthcoming creation of Galyani Vadhana district. But actually this was not the only thing I found, the second was a thread in the cm108 forum on the creation of a new province Fang.

This new province would consist of the three districts Fang, Mae Ai and Chai Prakan. Historically, the area was the Mueang Fang, first a district of Chiang Rai and in 1925 reassigned to Chiang Mai. Mae Ai was split off from Fang district in 1967, Chai Prakan in 1988. In total, it'd have a population of nearly 250.000 and an area of 2135 km² - which would rank it at 66th position by area and 68th position by population among the existing provinces.

Those petitioning for this new province even set up a website named FangOnline. Most interesting on that website is the campaign timeline, which I translated to present it here. I have also borrowed the campaigning photo below from their site.
Campaigning for creation of Fang province
Photo courtesy of FangOnline
  • March 26 2009: Committee to campaign for creation of Fang province submitted petition to Speaker of the Parliament.
  • April 5 2009: Committee submitted petition to prime minister in order to get acknowledge and support.
  • June 16 2009: Committee submitted petition to vice chairman of parliament together with a list of 11,022 signatures of supporters
Though I don't think this petition will have much chance of being successful - it's a rather small area with relatively few citizen, so the costs of the new administration would be much higher than any gain for the more direct access to the administration, especially by reducing the distances to the province hall. But who knows, I will of course occasionally check again on FangOnline if there's any news on this project. Besides, there are much larger provinces than Chiang Mai which could have parts split off to form a new provinces much easier, for example Nakhon Ratchasima.

Friday, January 22, 2010

TAO emblem with mainly a number

Another interesting emblem of a subdistrict administrative organization is the one of Tha Sen, directly south of Phetchaburi town. The main symbol on it is the Thai numeral kao ๙, simply the number 9. On their website they explain that this number refers to the number of villages within the subdistrict.
หมู่ที่ 1
Ban Rai Man
หมู่ที่ 2
Ban Nai Khung
หมู่ที่ 3
Ban Tha Maphut
หมู่ที่ 4
Ban Tha Sen
หมู่ที่ 5
Ban Rai Mueang
หมู่ที่ 6
Ban Hat Sai
หมู่ที่ 7
Ban Rahan Pa Phlu
หมู่ที่ 8
Ban Hua Khao
หมู่ที่ 9
Ban Khao Tha Mon
The second element are the three gable bars, and as these are predominantly found in the Buddhist temples they in fact refer to the three temples within the subdistrict.
  • Wat Khao Thamon (วัดเขาทะโมน) in the east
  • Wat Tha Sala Ram (วัดท่าศาลาราม) in the southwest
  • Wat Hat Sai (วัดหาดทราย) in the northwest
Since on their website they only show a rather small picture of the emblem, my vector graphic isn't that accurate as well.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday linkage

Seem like this can become a regular column here, just one week after the last link list I have four new links already.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pali/Sanskrit directional words

In our Thai class we recently learned the traditional directional terms as derived from Pali/Sanskrit, as shown in the table below.
A few of these terms one easily finds in the modern day names of provinces and regions as well - most notable Isan for the northeastern region, but also the town Udon Thani in the northern part of the Isan, and Prachin Buri east of Bangkok.

Much more of these words show up when looking at the Monthon, the administrative circles created in the thesaphiban reforms by Prince Damrong at the beginning of the 20th century. The Monthon Isan covered the southeastern part of the Khorat Plateau, which is now completely called Isan. Monthon Udon around the town Udon Thani covered the northern part of the Khorat Plateau. It also had the Monthon Phayap covering the area northwest as seen from Khorat - now this region is called northern Thailand, historically the Lan Na kingdom. Monthon Burapha were the provinces of western Cambodia, which in 1906 were ceded to French Indochina. Corresponding to this eastern Monthon, the western Monthon was around Prachinburi. I think this is the explanation why a town located east of the center of the kingdom is named "western town".

This naming scheme was even continued at the district level in the northeastern provinces. I discovered it two years ago without realizing that these names are in fact simply directional names. The names Udon (อุดร), Pachin (ปจิม), Thaksin (ทักษิณ) and Uthai (อุไทย) were used - Pachin is only a spelling variant of Prachin, but I don't know the meaning of Uthai, but since two of the districts named Uthai are now the Mueang district maybe it means "central"?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rename of Muban in Nakhon Ratchasima

Published in the Royal Gazette last Thursday was the rename of one administrative village (Muban) in Nakhon Ratchasima province. Village 1 of Tum subdistrict, Pak Thong Chai district was renamed from Ban Non Tak Daet (บ้านโนนตากแดด) to Ban Khlong Wat (บ้านคลองวัด).

As the rationale for the name change, the history of the village is quoted. Phra Thammawonnayok (พระธรรมวรนายก), chief monk of Nakhon Ratchasima province, established the temple in the village. The place was already named Khlong Wat (canal at temple) due to an ancient temple there at that time. The canal Khlong Lai (คลองไหล) passes next to the temple and is like a blood vessel for village till today. The old name had no special relation with the village and was not considered auspicious, and the new name is in fact the traditional name used by the villagers.

The name change was approved on November 10 2009 in meeting 3/2552 of the committee on name changes of province, district, subdistrict and villages (คณะกรรมการพิจารณาเรื่องการขอเปลี่ยนแปลงชื่อจังหวัด อำเภอ และตำบล หมู่บ้าน).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ko Samet district to be created - or not?

Already on December 15, the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) had an announcement on their website titled "จังหวัดระยองจัดตั้งอำเภอส่วนหน้าเกาะเสม็ด" - Rayong province establishs district Suan Na Ko Samet. So I thought, yet another new district to be created, this time on the small island near the coast at Rayong. It wouldn't be the only small district - the smallest district by population is Ko Kut, an island off Trat province.

However, when trying to find more details I noticed that - unlike the other island districts - Ko Samet does not even form a subdistrict, it just is one administrative village of Phe subdistrict. Starting to doubt my assumption, I looked into the name of this district, and noticed that อำเภอส่วนหน้า can also be translated as "Front part district". And there were more Google hits for this word than just those on Ko Samet, there also seem to be such districts for
  • Ko Tao (เกาะเต่า), Ko Pha Ngan district, Surat Thani
  • Ko Lipe (เกาหลีเป๊ะ), Mueang Satun district, Satun province
However I haven't been able to find a page which actually describes what such a "Front part district" does mean - but my guess is that it is simply means a branch district office built in the remote parts of a larger district, where the citizen can only reach the district office after a very difficult travel.

Friday, January 15, 2010

GPS and Thai UTM coordinates

Whenever in Royal Gazette announcements geographical locations like boundaries of the administrative subdivisions are mentioned, these are given in a special coding not directly understandable. Few months ago I cracked the code, when in the announcement of a municipal boundary change I understood that e.g. VE ๒๐๔๕๐๘ means the UTM coordinate 48Q4204 19508. However converting the UTM coordinate into longitude and latitude it did not fully fit with the place marked in the map enclosed in the announcement.

A year ago I found Excel sheets at the DOPA website which asked the local administrations to check the names of the administrative villages (Muban) and fill in the coordinates in UTM notation. With the first filled sheets now available I now had a lot of UTM coordinates to be parsed, and therefore had to look for code to convert them into "normal" geographic coordinates. I not only found that, but also learned a whole new thing about geographic coordinates, that additionally to the two coordinates one has to give the datum, which mostly covers the parametrization of the flatness of the earth globe. Google Earth as well as GPS uses the WGS84 datum, however in Thailand coordinates most usually are given in the Indian 1975 datum, including those UTM coordinates for the Muban. The two coordinates differ by about 80 metres, still enough to make a pointer to a specific building point to a totally different one, especially in more densely settled areas. The different datums even led to a serious misalignment of various layers in Google Maps, luckily not for Thailand.

Yet, not all instances use the Indian 1975 datum. A marker stone I found between the provincial hall and the provincial court of Surat Thani has the exact geographic location of that place, given in the WGS84 standard retrieved with the GPS system. That stone inscription reads 9° 7' 58.32484'' N 99° 19' 53.9080'' E, assuming this value is correct it means the Google Earth imaginary of Surat Thani is misaligned by about 2 metres. But I somehow doubt the accuracy given in the inscription - 0.0001 arcseconds means about 3 millimetres, way beyond the accuracy possible with GPS. IMHO at least two digits of the numbers are simply bogus.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday linkage

Today I have only a few links to some recent news or other pages, each not enough meat to write a whole posting about it, but still noteworthy enough not to be ignored.

You can also follow my public bookmarks at delicious, so learn about things before I have to time to write up a nice posting around it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Amphoe vs. King Amphoe creation gazette announcements

When the creation of Galyani Vadhana district was announced last month, due to the Christmas vacation two Thai Wikipedians beat me to add the official creation to the article on Wikipedia. As they also added that the act to create the district was signed by HM the King it made look into even more detail into the announcement than at first.

Looking on page 2 of the PDF at the end of the actual law text, one find the name of Prime Minister Abhisit (อภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ), so I suspected that it was him who signed the act. In real however this is only the countersignature, and the Royal signature is at the beginning at the Royal emblem.

It gets more interesting when comparing this act with the other two recent district creations, the minor district Wiang Kao and the upgrades of the minor districts in 2007.
While the minor district does not require the Royal signature, the upgrade of minor districts does, same as the creation of a district from scratch. This can be found for many decades already, but I now learned that the "State Administration Act of 1991" (ระเบียบบริหารราชการแผ่นดิน พ.ศ. ๒๕๓๔) is requiring it to be this way.
มาตรา ๖๑ ในจังหวัดหนึ่งให้มีหน่วยราชการบริหารรองจากจังหวัดเรียกว่า อำเภอ
การตั้ง ยุบ และเปลี่ยนเขตอำเภอ ให้ตราเป็นพระราชกฤษฎีกา

Paragraph 61: In one province it has administration offices subordinate of the province named Amphoe. To create, abolish or change area of a Amphoe is done by a Royal Decree.
Since the districts creations before 1991 already follow the same system, this paragraph must have been inherited from an older act, superseded by the new act.

As with the local administration act, I also found this act at, and thus can try my luck with Google translate and others to find more interesting items on the district administration.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Municipal decisions from December 2 2009

Meeting number 62 from December 2 2009 with one subdistrict municipality upgraded to a town.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Missing Muban numbers

Working through the local administrative units of Uttaradit, the list of villages of Bo Bia subdistrict, Ban Khok district, had some numbers unassigned. Now normally this indicates that the respective villages are in fact part of a municipality sharing the territory of the subdistrict with the subdistrict administrative organization, but in this remote area this can't be the case as there is no second local government unit in Bo Bia.
หมู่ที่ 1บ้านบ่อเบี้ยBan Bo Bia
หมู่ที่ 2บ้านห้วยไผ่Ban Huai Phai
หมู่ที่ 3บ้านปางคอมBan Pang Khom
หมู่ที่ 7บ้านห้วยยางBan Huai Yang
หมู่ที่ 8บ้านเด่นชาติBan Den Chat
หมู่ที่ 9บ้านปางไฮBan Pang Hai
หมู่ที่ 10บ้านภูต่างBan Phu Tang
The answer is given directly below the table
หมายเหตุ = หมู่ที่ 4 บ้านใหม่ หมู่ที่ 5 บ้านสว่าง และหมู่ที่ 6 บ้านกลาง เนื่องจากเกิดกรณี พิพาทการปักปันเขตแดนสามหมู่บ้านระหว่างไทย-สปป.ลาว เมื่อปี พ.ศ. 2527 จึงได้ยุบรวมเป็น หมู่ที่ 7 บ้านห้วยยาง ในปัจจุบัน
which says that the villages 4 (Ban Mai), 5 (Ban Sawang) and 6 (Ban Klang) were ceded to Laos after a boundary conflict in 1984, and the remaining areas were added to village 7 Ban Huai Yang.

I recalled that more than a year ago I wrote shortly about exactly this boundary conflict, when I found a paper describing it. To quote from that paper
The three villages, both sides agree, are Ban Main, Bai Kang and Ban Savang. The LDPR claims the villages belong to Muong Thong canton, Paklay district, Sayaboury Province. Thailand claims that the disputed area cover 19 square kilometers, is part of Ban Khok subdistrict, Uttaradit Province, and has a present population of 1,010 inhabitants.
I like it when facts from two sources fit together.

An interesting side-note - in fact these villages numbers were created after the boundary dispute, as Bo Bia was split off from Ban Khok subdistrict effective August 1 1986, so the above quoted excerpt is correct by not mentioning Bo Bia, so the "loss" of these three villages wasn't accepted by the Ministry of Interior at that time.

Friday, January 8, 2010


It will still take years until Google's Streetview will come to Thailand, but already now it has a similar website showing views from the road for a few selected towns named MapJack. From what they write on their website, they take a much simpler and therefore cheaper approach than Google, but still their views are very worth exploring.

To make it fit with the topic of this blog, I have selected all the views of administrative offices within the towns available, I can share my own photograph only for the town hall of Hua Hin - I missed the district office even though it was just on the other side of the crossing, and most of the offices in Ayutthaya.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Newly built TAO office

By comparing with Google Earth I noticed other municipality offices built very recently, and now while I was looking for the websites of the subdistrict administrative organizations (TAO) in Udon Thani, the one of Ban Daeng (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบ้านแดง) I not only found the website (which mysteriously disappeared one day after I found it) but also a placemark on the Thai map website Longdo. But looking at that location in Google Earth showed a mostly empty plot of land (the top left corner of the map below), but looking closely it seems that there is construction underway.

View Ban Daeng in a larger map

Since the placemark did not fit with any existing building - I even suspected the small building which turned out to be the district library - one of the photo albums on the website (even more strangely, the album is still online) gave me the clue that it must be a recently built office. The satellite image dates from 2006, and the photos showing some finishing touches on the outside of the building are from November 2008. But only after I recognized the library building in one of the photos I knew for sure the placemark in Longdo was correct.

PointAsia has slightly more up to date imaginary, since there it shows the office building with roof already, but none of the surrounding auxiliary buildings like the garage for the fire truck.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thesaban subdivision "Khet"

So far I thought that the municipalities are always subdivided into boroughs (Chumchon, ชุมชน), and only very few large cities additionally have subdistricts (Khwaeng), for example Chiang Mai. But now while browsing through the local government entity websites in Uttaradit province, I noticed a strange new case.

The Pha Chuk subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลผาจุก), Mueang Uttaradit district, on their website lists two districts (Khet, เขต), into which the villages are sorted. The TAO Pha Chuk was upgraded in 2007, so it for sure isn't a big municipality two have a more complicate subdivision. The districts are as follows
  • Khet 1 (เขต 1), 8 villages
    • Mu 1 Ban Wang Yang (หมู่ที่ 1 บ้านวังยาง)
    • Mu 2 Ban Wang Yang (หมู่ที่ 2 บ้านวังยาง)
    • Mu 5 Ban Pha Chuk (หมู่ที่ 5 บ้านผาจุก)
    • Mu 6 Ban Mon Mai (หมู่ที่ 6 บ้านหมอนไม้)
    • Mu 10 Ban Mon Hin Khao (หมู่ที่ 10 บ้านม่อนหินขาว)
    • Mu 12 Ban Daeng Long (หมู่ที่ 12 บ้านแดงหลง)
    • Mu 13 Ban Hat Fang (หมู่ที่ 13 บ้านหาดฝาง)
    • Mu 14 Ban Wang Yang (หมู่ที่ 14 บ้านวังยาง)
  • Khet 2 (เขต 2), 6 villages
    • Mu 3 Ban Phra Fang (หมู่ที่ 3 บ้านพระฝาง)
    • Mu 4 Ban Phra Fang (หมู่ที่ 4 บ้านพระฝาง)
    • Mu 7 Ban Khlong Na Phong (หมู่ที่ 7 บ้านคลองนาพง)
    • Mu 8 Ban Pha Chak (หมู่ที่ 8 บ้านผาจักร)
    • Mu 9 Ban Nong Bua (หมู่ที่ 9 บ้านหนองบัว)
    • Mu 11 Ban Den Kratai (หมู่ที่ 11 บ้านเด่นกระต่าย)
Sadly the map they have on their website does not allow to read the Muban numbers, but from the fact that the Nan river cuts the subdistrict into two halves it would only be logical that the two Khet are in fact the area north and south of the river. I am also not sure if these Khet are in fact just the two electorate districts, yet these are normally named เขตเลือกตั้ง.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Local Administration Act, Amendment 12

Published on December 30 was the 12th amendment of the local administration act of 1914 (พระราชบัญญัติลักษณะปกครองท้องที่ พระพุทธศักราช ๒๔๕๗), which deals with the central administration at subdistrict (Tambon) and village (Muban) level.

If I understand the amendment correctly, it adds one sentence at paragraph 3, which previously only stated that all laws in contradiction with the act are nullified as of the date of announcement of this act. The new sentence is as follows
การยกเลิกตำแหน่งกำนัน ผู้ใหญ่บ้าน แพทย์ประจำตำบล สารวัตรกำนันและผู้ช่วยผู้ใหญ่บ้าน จะกระทำมิได้
Cancellation of the positions of subdistrict headman, village headman, subdistrict doctor, deputy subdistrict headman and deputy village headman will not be done
Originally a longer sentence was planned, however after lobbying by the headman association (สมาคมกำนัน ผู้ใหญ่บ้านแห่งประเทศไทย) the senate cut off the second part which stated that the Ministry of Interior can cancel these posts when the area has developed enough to take care itself without these officials. In Thai: "เว้นแต่ท้องที่ใดที่มีความเจริญ สามารถจัดการดูแลและปฏิบัติหน้าที่แทนกำนัน ผู้ใหญ่บ้าน แพทย์ประจำตำบล สารวัตรกำนัน และผู้ช่วยผู้ใหญ่บ้าน ให้รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงมหาดไทย ประกาศยกเลิกตำแหน่งดังกล่าว ทั้งนี้ให้เป็นไปตามหลักเกณฑ์และวิธีการที่กระทรวงมหาดไทยกำหนด โดยประกาศในราชกิจจานุเบกษา". Though I am not sure, but if I understand it correctly this means that now after a upgrade of a local administrative area to town or city status the headmen and other officials will no longer be abandoned, exactly what the headmen of Ko Samui demanded after the upgrade of the island.

I guess I should try my luck to translate the whole act, I could find the complete text including all amendments except the two latest ones as plain text, the original announcement in the Royal Gazette is only available as a scan. Maybe can find a lot of new information to expand the rudimentary Wikipedia articles on Kamnan and Phu Yai Ban.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Muban in Mukdahan to come

Both from the lack of announcements in the Royal Gazette as well as from the numbers on the last two DOPA annual reports, the were no new administrative villages (Muban) since 2007 - except the single one just announced shortly ago. As the annual reports last came in March, it's still too early for a definitive answer, but I am now quite sure there are more Muban announcements to be published soon.

In the news report from July 2008 by the Public Relations Department titled หมู่บ้านตั้งใหม่ 9 แห่ง จังหวัดมุกดาหาร ได้รับจัดสรรเงินกองทุนหมู่บ้านงวดที่ 2 nine new villages in the provinces Mukdahan have their funding allocated already. While it does not say which date these villages get actually created, I wouldn't be surprised now to see these villages in the Royal Gazette soon, more than a year after the funding was approved.

The article only lists the districts, but not the subdistricts, which will get new villages