Tuesday, August 31, 2010

District council election results

District Councils, Round 2
The local elections in Bangkok last Sunday confirmed the results of the first round in 14 districts some weeks ago, the fact that Bangkok is now a stronghold for the Democratic Party - though the low turnout of 41.15% limits any conclusions on the potential result of the parliament elections. To me a positive sign is the fact that the New Politics Party aligned with the nationalist PAD failed to gain any seat, neither in any of the district councils nor the city council.

In the map I have visualized the results of the district council elections as found at siamintelligence, where most of the districts now have all the councilors from the Democratic Party. Five districts (marked in red) - Huai Khwang, Nong Chok, Nong Khaem, Phasi Charoen and Thonburi - have their council completely filled with Phuea Thai candidates, in Thung Khru (marked in grey) the council will consist of 6 Democrats and 1 Phuea Thai member. A special case is Phra Nakhon, where the whole council is filled by independent candidates. For the results of the first round in the 14 districts left yellow in the map see my previous posting.

City Council
For the city council, 45 seats will be filled by Democrats, 15 by Phuea Thai and one independent. Plotting the party results by district for these elections, the map does not look much different than the one for the district councils, only that it was an independent candidate who won in Lak Si district,
Strangely, my map does not fully fit with the one I found at Bangkok Post, not sure whether it was my source or the one of Bangkok Post which had mistakes or had later corrected preliminary results. I have Phasi Charoen go to the Democrats, while Bangkok Post has drawn it to be Phuea Thai; also Bang Khaen according to my source has one constituency won by Democrats and one by Phuea Thai, not completely Phuea Thai as in BP.

While there are a few complaints filed, but even if accepted these won't change the overall result much. Sadly I have no equally detailed results for the elections 4 years ago, the Wikipedia article only covers the first round of the district council in full depth. For an independent analysis of the results, BangkokPundit has just posted a very detailed one.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Asking the Royal Gazette

Only by coincidence I discovered that on the website of the Royal Gazette it also has a form to post questions to the administrators. I have no idea from where it is linked, since I only found one of the answers and then guessed the URL of the question page.

I had posted several strange cases with Royal Gazette announcements here before, or to be exact most of them were missing announcements on things which normally is found in the Gazette. In order to test out the question system, I posted the case of the two missing minor district creations from 1978 there. Unlike all other minor districts created in 1978 (or any other year since at least the 1950s), the creation of Khao Suan Kwang in Khon Kaen province and Plaeng Yao in Chachoengsao are not found in the Gazette database. As I knew the second one happened in October, I even tried to download all the PDFs from October in order to find if it might be wrongly indexed, or a non-indexed PDF could be downloaded, but no success at all.

So I posted the question in English, only to created a correct caption my Thai was enough. And I got an answer
ไม่ปรากฏประกาศจัดตั้งกิ่งอำเภอแปลงยาว และกิ่งอำเภอเขาสวนกวางในเว็บไซต์ราชกิจจานุเบกษา ขอได้โปรดสอบถามกรมส่งเสริมการปกครองส่วนท้องถิ่น ซึ่งเป็นหน่วยงานที่เกี่ยวข้อง ว่ามีประกาศเรื่องดังกล่าวหรือไม่ หมายเลขโทรศัพท์ 02 2419000

The announcement to create minor districts Plaeng Yao and Suan Kwang are not on Royal Gazette website. Please ask the Department of Local Administration which is the agency involved whether it has the previous mentioned announcement.
Though I would believe the Department of Provincial Administration would be better to ask - DOLA is responsible for the municipalities, whereas the districts as central administrative entities are under DOPA - at least I now don't have to try to search it anymore in the database.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bangkok district council elections

This Sunday the elections for the district councils in 36 districts - 14 districts in the east of Bangkok already had their elections on June 6 - as well as the election for the BMA council, so also the voters in the 14 districts have to go to the ballot box again. In the life-style BK magazine, a rather unlikely place to find anything about politics, there's now a great article on these elections. It includes many smaller details on the actual tasks of each councilor I did not know before, strange I never notice such a background article in any of the major English newspapers in Bangkok. The most notable part in the article is the following:
Up until the new military constitution of 2007, that aimed to cut abuse of power and corruption, being a city councilor was a potentially lucrative post. Each one received some 25 million baht to spend pretty much as he or she pleased in their district: add street lights, build a park, expand a road. Three million baht of that budget was even chalked down to personal expenses, with practically no oversight whatsoever.
Now I don't wonder anymore why for example in Bangkok Noi, the district I know best, it has kitsch animal figurines in the green middle part of Charansanitwong road - probably some money from that budget which needed to be spent, and no better and more useful idea came up.

Just sad that this article does not answer one of the things I wonder about a lot - why do these 14 districts vote their district councils some weeks before the others, so for the city council election they have to go to the ballot twice. As the turnout for these local elections is relatively weak, keeping the two elections together at the same date would make the turnout at least a bit higher.

By the link at the end of the article, I also now discovered the Press Release website of the city of Bangkok, and it even has RSS feeds, so I can comfortable monitor it for the news relevant for my topics, so I might be able to catch news of the planned new district and subdistricts more timely. But as usual, all just in Thai, but at least with Google Translate it get accessible.

As I was in Bangkok before the campaigning for these election actually started, I have no photo of election posters to decorate this article - but at 2bangkok it has a big gallery, including defaced ones and explanations of the slogans or the defacement.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Municipal decisions from August 11 2010

Meeting number 40 from August 11 with four local government units being renamed.
  • Samrong Tai town (เทศบาลเมืองสำโรงใต้), Phra Pradaeng district, Samut Prakan province renamed to Pu Chao Saming Phrai (เทศบาลเมืองปู่เจ้าสมิงพราย). Reason given is the fact that the subdistrict Samrong Tai is only one of five subdistricts covered by the municipality, so to create more unity within the municipality a new name fitting for the whole area was selected. Pu Chao Saming Phrai was the name of the first fort at the mouth of the Chao Phraya river. The name change was already approved by the board responsible for name changes in its meeting on August 10.
  • Sattahip subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลสัตหีบ), Sattahip district, Chonburi province renamed to Khet Udom Sak (เทศบาลตำบลเขตรอุดมศักดิ์). It was the name originally planned when the TAO Sattahip was upgraded (except now a silent ร was added), but at that time it was found that the wasn't possible because they lacked permission by the grandson of Prince of Chumphon to use the name. Apparently it was now granted.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TAO upgrades scheduled for 2011

While this year seems to quiet on the upgrades of Tambon administrative organizations (TAO) to municipalities - probably because few or none of the TAO councils end their term this year - in an article at ryt9 I already learned of the first upgrade planned for next year.

The TAO Sam Khok (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลสามโคก), Sam Khok district, Pathum Thani plans for a upgrade to a municipality in October 2011 - as the TAO was created in 1995 ([Gazette], this means 16 years have passed since its creation, and with the normal term of the TAO council being 4 years there need to be election in 2011 in this TAO anyway, so a good time to upgrade.

My rough translation of the news report goes as follows.
Mr. Enok Sombun (เอนก สมบุญ), chairman of Sam Khok TAO, Sam Khok district, Pathum Thani, said that the TAO is in the process of upgrading to a subdistrict municipality. In council meeting number 1 on June 11, all 8 council members agreed to apply for a municipal upgrade. The TAO has reached the necessary income of 20 million Baht and population of 5000. The council believes that with the upgrade the area will improve for development, infrastructure and tourism. The proposal is now submitted to the provincial administration and the Department of Local Administration (DOLA). They are set to take effect on October 1 2012.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to single-seat constituencies?

The change back to the multiple-seat constituencies with the 2007 constitution apparently remains a controversial topic. In yesterday's The Nation it reads
"The recommendation from the Sombat Thamrongthanyawong panel is just a rehash of an old debate during the drafting of the 2007 Constitution," said Election Commission member Sodsri Sattayatham, who helped author the 2007 charter.
The preceding 1997 charter introduced single-seat constituencies, which might be popular in other democracies but in the local political landscape, ended up fuelling money politics to sway votes, she said, explaining why the charter writers opted for the multi-seat system.
The corresponding item by the governmental National News Bureau focuses on the reaction of Prime Minister Abhisit only, not mentioning any controversy. Bangkok Post has the reaction of 2006 coup leader Sonthi
Matubhum Party leader Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said on Saturday that he supports the proposal by political reform committee that the “one constituency, one number” system be introduced in the next general election.
“The one constituency, one number system will open an opportunity for small political party to win MP seats at the polls. But I believe big political parties would not agree with this proposal”, Gen Sonthi said.
It'll be interesting to see if there will really be a reversion of the reversion, but if there will be it must mean a lot of extra work for the Election Commission, as then all of the constituencies must be redefined - another possible excuse for the delaying of the election maybe?

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Year Cards with Thailand’s National Symbols

I was using Google to find the website of the National Identity Office (สำนักงานเสริมสร้างเอกลักษณ์ของชาติ) in order to clean up the entry in Librarything, and since their website as no English content the search did turn up many other things instead.

Among many uninteresting sites, one result was a small news report by the Public Relation Department titled New Year Cards for 2010 Illustrating Thailand’s National Symbols. I only found out about the three official national symbols earlier this year, so I did not notice these cards when they were issued - now half a year later they are for sure sold out. The drawings are much more beautiful then those photos I had used to illustrate my earlier post, so even they are no longer available I still want to share this finding. And maybe for next New Year a new set will be produced, and then someone in Thailand wants to send me a nice greeting by mail?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Artistic map of Thailand

I was actually searching for the font used on the highway traffic signs pointing towards the provinces or districts, in order to create my own such signs with Inkscape. But as usual, instead of finding that specific font, on a page which lists lots of commercial Thai fonts the illustration caught my attention.
Artwork by Fiodor Sumkin
This very artistic map shows the country with some major provinces or cities written on the - somewhat distorted - country outline. Though Laem Chabang in real shouldn't have been placed on the Isthmus of Kra since it is on the eastern shore of the Bay of Bangkok, I like this style of map a lot. It was created by the Belorussian graphical artist Fiodor Sumkin, and is part of a series of similar maps he did for the in-flight magazine of Aeroflot some years ago. That's probably also the reason for the one Phuket hotel so prominently advertised on the Andaman Sea.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mae Sot municipal borders

When the municipaliy Mae Sot was upgraded earlier this year, the boundaries were changed a bit as well, if comparing the maps in the 2010 announcement with the in the previous upgraded from 2001.

But this wasn't the final word on the municipal boundaries, on August 18 another change of the boundaries was announced. While this announcement only gives the law text and as an appendix the description of the boundary and a map, a very lengthy text with all the background on this is in the meeting transcript of meeting 23/2010 of board 1 in April this year. Way to long for me to get it all, and with Google translate it sounds like some adjustments had to be done due to a court decision. This pending change of boundaries is probably also the reason why the constituencies for the municipal election were still not yet defined, even though the municipal upgrade was done with the end of term of the previous council and mayor. The election had been pushed back by 45 days several times since then, and the old council continue to be in office as the acting council.

I have tried to put all three boundaries into a Google map of Mae Sot, though at the time of writing I haven't yet finished it. But since this map is embedded, it will automatically be updated. I have also included the main administrative offices as far as I know them, too bad I could not yet localize the city pillar. If the map is a bit too full, try to click the larger map link, then you can switch off and on the various parts.

View Larger Map

And very soon the municipality Mae Sot will be completely abolished and its area included into the new special administrative area of Mae Sot, the corresponding bill was already approved by the cabinet. Once made a law, I have to update the map above once again.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Public Administration in Thailand

Thanks to a site listing newly published academic books on Asia, I noticed the forthcoming book Public Administration in Southeast Asia: Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macao, which will be published in October. Sadly the price tag of £44.99 or $69.95 will probably prevent me from buying it - if it were solely on Thailand I might be more tempted. So I probably wait till I can get it through a library (or wait for the unlikely event of getting a free reviewer's copy). But trying out the search term "Public Administration in Thailand" with Google returned me a few hitherto unknown resources.

The first was a 1997 document by one United Nations committee titled Administrative reform efforts in Thailand: Current experiences and successes.Though obviously a bit outdated, it's still interesting to compare the state of decentralization back then and today.

But even more interesting were two publications by the United Nations Development Programme, one of the UN agencies having branch-offices in the UN building in Bangkok. In December 2009, a report on the 10th anniversary of the Decentralization Act was published. Two PDF files are available, first the Executive Summary: Improving the Local Administrative Structure, and sadly the much longer The Progress of Decentralization Process of Thailand and its Recommendations is only available in Thai language. I still have to read those English documents, so this might only be the appetizer for a later posting...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Municipal decisions from August 9 2010

Meeting number 43 of board 1 from August 9 2010 with one TAO and municipality adjusting their boundaries and one TAO to be merged into a municipality.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Books on municipal and provincial seals

Seal of Surat Thani province
On the Thai Wikipedia, the list of provincial seals include some former provinces - Phra Nakhon and Thonburi which were merged into Bangkok metropolis in 1972 and the four provinces in the annexed areas of modern-day Laos and Cambodia in World War II. As the source for these images, a publication by the Fine Arts Department (กรมศิลปากรจัดพิมพ์) published in 1999 was given. I guess this book, titled ตราประจำจังหวัด (Tra pracham changwat, provincial seals), is probably completely impossible to get in the bookstores anymore, and I haven't had the time to check any of the libraries in Bangkok during my short vacation times there. And sadly Google Books has no scans of this book either. At 350 pages, i.e. about 4 pages per province, it would be a great resource, so if anyone could catch me a copy or even just scans of the pages it would absolutely great.

While looking for more about this book, I discovered that there were earlier similar publications. In 1968, the Department of Provincial Administration (กรมการปกครอง) published a book titled ประวัติและความหายของดวงตราประจำจังหวัด (Prawat lae khwammai khong duang tra pracham changwat, Provincial seals, their history and meaning), though at 71 pages it probably much less detailed than the 1999 book. But even more interesting is another one titled ประวัติและความหายของดวงตราประจำเทศบาลทั่วราชอาณาจักร) (Prawat lae khwammai khong dūang tra pracham thetsaban thua ratchaanachak, Municipal seals, their history and meaning). As there were only about 120 municipalities back then, these fit well into the 120 pages of this book. What is really a pits is that both books have been scanned by the University of Michigan, but due to the copyright law one cannot access the scans on the net - even though I would think the books are not copyrighted as being governmental publications.

Seal of TAO Bang Bai Mai,
Surat Thani
Today, a book on the municipal seals would become a multi-volume one, as there are around 2000 municipalities by now. Additionally, the 5700 TAO also each have seals, altogether 7776 local government entities to be covered. And there were a few TAO which were abolished again already, don't know if these ever had seals as well. Thus if an equal coverage as in the 1999 book is attempted, one could easily fill a book with just the seals in a single province. Though I prefer the dead-tree books, this much more calls for an eBook, or even better to become a part of the Wikipedia. If only I could be more sure about the copyright status of these seals - even the provincial seals had once been deleted on Wikipedia as being of unsure status - I would have started long time with those few seals I could draw in vector format already.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Road signs

Inspired by a Tweet from another Andy, I had a look at the traffic signs pointing to the provinces and districts in Thailand, in order to create the artwork for a T-Shirt featuring the soon to be created province Bueng Kan. At first look, the artwork necessary would be almost trivial - a green slightly rounded rectangle, a white arrow and the province name in both Thai and the English transcription. But this last part is where it gets tricky - it turns out that the Department of Highways (กรมทางหลวง) uses a special font, with filled character heads and rather thick lines.

I even found a very interesting paper on the Dynamic Legibility of Standard Thai Fonts on Traffic Highway Sign, from which I learned that within Bangkok a different font is used by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA). Now while for the English characters it was relatively easy to find a fitting font - the Mittelschrift font from the German standard DIN 1451, which as TTFs in several variants was provided by roadgeek. However the Thai font was more tricky, only thanks to the Thai Wikipedian who created several vector images of other road signs for Wikipedia I learned about the ThangLuang font. You can compare the drawing above with the example signs at the Department of Highways.

So now I don't need to reuse the district map for Bueng Kan in every posting, but have an alternative one to illustrate the text. And Andy might have his geeky shirt soon as well, and for anybody else who'd love to have the above picture on a shirt I have created a shop at Skreened. Though designing isn't my strongest skill, and I don't expect to get rich with that shop, I might add other designs for fans of this blog later...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

100th anniversary of Tak Bai district

The district Tak Bai in the southernmost province Narathiwat did just celebrate its 100th birthday. I only became aware of this event by an article in the official news published by the Public Relations Department on the last day of the ceremonies. Titled Narathiwat province district celebrates 100th anniversary, it only mentions the base of the celebrations with a single sentence
The 100th anniversary commemorates the district which played an important part in preventing the country being colonized by the British during king Rama the 5th’s rule.
On the video channel of The Nation, it also has a video on the celebrations.

But much more interesting than the celebrations is the actual history of the district and the events which led to the creation of the district in 1909. On March 10 1909 the Anglo-Siamese Treaty was signed, which finalized the boundary between Siam and the British colony Malaysia. The area of Tak Bai belonged to the Mueang Kelantan, but since the boundary was chosen to run along the Kolok river this part of Kelantan became part of Mueang Bang Nara, the old name of Narathiwat province. In August the territorial administration of the area was defined. Published on August 22 in the Royal Gazette was an announcement titled ประกาศกระทรวงมหาดไทย ประกาศตั้งอำเภอสะเดาและอำเภอตากใบ, which was signed on August 12. Sadly it does not state on which day it became effective, but since the celebrations ended on August 10 it must have been few days before the announcement was signed.

Those who can read Thai will notice, that together with Tak Bai also the district Sadao was established, as here part of Mueang Saiburi (Kedah) was added to Songkhla. But I am not aware of any celebration in there, but since it was announced at same date it should have its anniversary at the same time.

According to the data I have, the next district to celebrate its 100th anniversary is Rueso, also in Narathiwat, which was created as a minor district on September 24 1913 [Gazette]. If however only the full district status counts, then the next are already next month - Wiang Sa and Rong Kwang were upgraded from minor districts to full districts on September 12 1909 [Gazette].

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day of the local administration

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

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

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

Whereas the cabinet meeting agenda only gives a very short summary on the rationale behind this proposal, an article at the Thai online news site ryt9.com gives the whole story behind it. Thus the reason for choosing March 18 is that on this day in 1906 the very first rural sanitary district (sukhaphiban, สุขาภิบาล) Tha Chalom (ท่าฉลอม) was created, which in turn developed into the city Samut Sakhon. Though this act by king Chulalongkorn was the start of the local administration in Thailand, it only really started when decentralization came into focus in the 1990s.

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

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

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Tambon One ...

Yesterday the official government news outlet at the Public Relations Department had one article titled Govt to launch 1 Tambon 1 Temple for merit making on Sunday. While this specific program - setting up a Buddhist ceremony each Sunday in one temple of each subdistrict - is not really relevant to this blog, the title of this scheme is.

Since the One Tambon One Project (OTOP) became a success, the "One Tambon One ..." meme has been adopted for many other projects. Especially when such projects are set to be adopted nation-wide on a local level, and both in urban as well as rural areas, a catchy name for the project using this meme is almost inevitable. So I have done some searching and looked for some other project with this scheme.

Of course, the first one to note is the project where I am active a little bit as well, the One Tambon One Photo blog. It is currently dormant, but I hope it will come back to life and grow into a Thai clone of the Geograph project.

The only other project I had noticed in the news before is the One Tambon One Ricemill project - or actually One Tambon One Granary One Mill aimed at making the rice processing more local to give the local areas more of the income generated from the agriculture. Another one I crossed in Google in past is the One Tambon One Search and Rescue Team, aimed to have a local disaster response. Also One Tambon One Wife as a sarcastic term for the marriage of Thai women with foreigners I had read about before.

But that's far from all, the following I have only now found, so they probably haven't made that much impression, either because they quietly worked on the local level, or even more quietly were halted again. I have not much information about them, so I just link the page where I found them...
And I am sure those weren't all...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thai numerology

From a tweet by Voranai Vanijaka, journalist at the Bangkok Post:
76 provinces. 7+6=13 Unlucky. 77 provinces. 7+7=14 Meaningless. But 1+4=5 Lucky. And that sums up the entire history of modern Thailand.
Albeit less detailed, the same is referenced in an article in Bangkok Post, in which a government spokesman denies any hidden agenda behind the creation of the province, it being solely to the benefit of the citizen.
Boonjong yesterday dismissed rumours of superstition being behind the decision to set up a 77th province, because some believe that the number 76 totals to the unlucky number of 13.
I only wonder how long it will take till any of the superstitious numerologists noticing that with this new province the inauspicious number wasn't avoided, but reached - while there 77 entities at province level, there are only 76 province and one special administrative area. But seems like everyone forgets that Bangkok is not a normal province. If anyone in government seriously based his decision on this new province on the numbers only, then the country is really doomed... Also interesting - in the Public Relations Department's version of that report, they list the area and population of Bueng Kan district as being the numbers for the province, so much for the quality of the official news outlet of the government.

What makes me more wonder is the fact that especially in the main English Thailand forum ThaiVisa most of the comments only consider the new province as being created to have more jobs in the bureaucracy, have big parts of the budget for the province hall to go into the pockets of corrupt officials, or even misunderstand the provincial court built there some years ago and think that there will be now two province halls. Whereas on ThailandQA more constructively the follow-up costs of the new province was worried. No wonder I am rarely active at ThaiVisa and prefer that forum run by Richard Barrow.

Friday, August 6, 2010

No new district in Bangkok this year?

Subdistricts of Bang Khae
It seems the new district which I was expecting for Bangkok to be created this year won't become reality right now. The district council elections this year would be an ideal date for such an act, since otherwise the council of both the new and the parent district has to be elected an additional time. In fact, the last changes in the district boundaries in Bangkok was in 2002, the same year it had council elections. And the last new districts were created in 1997 (Lak Si, Sai Mai, Khan Na Yao, Saphan Sung, Wang Thonglang, Khlong Sam Wa, Watthana, Thwai Watthana, Bang Na, Bang Khae, Thung Khru, Bang Bon) were done few month before the district elections as well. The previous round of district creations was in 1993, another term before.

But the elections for Bang Khae will take place on August 29, and now the number of councilors for each district was announced in the Royal Gazette. Each district council has a minimum number of 7 councilors. Starting with 150,000 citizen there will be eight councilors, and above 200,000 there would be nine - but since Bang Khae with 193,478 citizen is the largest there are only district councils with seven or eight councilors. The table in the announcement now lists Bang Khae as usual, and does not list any new district name like Bang Khae Nuea, or a population of about 90,000 for Bang Khae.

This would also explain why I have failed to find any hint on the planned district, except one website and one interpellation reply mentioning it. Especially the (rather creepy) website of the district itself mentions nothing of it, and even with the newspaper only picking it up when it becomes official at least there some of the preparations should be found. Unless I get totally surprised in the next three weeks, the split of Bang Khae has been delayed for four years. Maybe by then more than one district gets split, as there are a few more which have a quite big population already. However new subdistricts are still possible this year, these don't depend on election dates and at last years creation it was mentioned that further subdistricts are planned.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Municipal decisions from June 16 2010

Meeting number 27 from June 16 2010 with one subdistrict municipality upgraded to a town municipality.
  • Ton Pao, Sam Kamphaeng district, Chiang Mai province upgraded to town municipality (เทศบาลเมืองต้นเปา) effective October 22 2010. The municipality was created in 1999 when the sanitary district Ton Pao was upgraded; it covers 15.36 km² and 12,452 citizen.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Changes in recommended romanizations

I discovered that the recommended romanized names of provinces and districts were also published in the Royal Gazette, and not just the last ones from the year 2000, but also several older sets as well. I wasn't aware that these recommended transcriptions were already started in 1967. While most changes in these lists are of course newly added districts, the changes in the spellings are much more interesting, so I worked through all the lists (2000, 1987, 1977, 1967) and documented the changes. Most striking in looking through the changes is the change of Muang to Mueang, which was due to the corresponding change in the RTGS (Royal Thai General System of Transcription) - I wrote about that change earlier.

I have collected all the changes I noticed in the spreadsheet below, including changes where only a space or a hyphen was inserted or removed between parts of the name. Those spellings which I consider clearly wrong - like Bangkok Noi once spelled Bangkok Koi - are marked in red.

Not surprisingly most of the changes are those due to changes in RTGS. And since some Thai words are found in several district names, the table is somewhat repetitive. The ones which are found several times are the following:
  • Mueang (เมือง), previously Muang, meaning "city"
  • Bueng (บึง), previously Bung, meaning "swamp"
  • Phueng (ผึ้ง), previously Phung, meaning "bee"
  • Ruea (เรือ), previously Rua, meaning "boat"
The only thing which really surprises me is the high number of obvious mistakes in the 1987 announcement, a total of nine names obviously wrong. As that document was supposed to serve foreigners to spell the names correctly, especially those who cannot read Thai have no chance to know that Kanthag in real should be Kantang, as it was spelled both in the 2000 and 1977 announcement. At least the latest version from 2000 is without any mistake - whereas the 2007 book including the subdistricts introduced a few new ones, not surprising with the tenfold increase of names covered in that book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bueng Kan province approved by Cabinet

Today, the Thai cabinet approved the proposal to create the new province Bueng Kan (จังหวัดบึงกาฬ), the next step in the creation of the law necessary to make it reality. In May, it was already approved by the Ministry of Interior, so this next step was only a matter of time.

I hope I can find a more detailed transcript of the cabinet meeting, same as it had when the 878th district was created last year, as that will probably give some more background information on the decision process. As of now, both Bangkok Post and The Nation only have a short breaking news article online, and it's not easy to find an elaborate Thai article with my limited knowledge of Thai. At the Public relations Department only the Thai language article is up yet, but it doesn't give information much new anyway.

Anyone worrying a new province in the red heartland might be a disadvantage to the current government - as I calculated already there won't be any change for the parliament seats, and there might also be a lot of citizen who are happy with getting the province they asked for for decades they might be voting a pro-government party to show their gratitude. But one never knows what will happen in the muddy Thai politics...

For all the postings on the new province, they are now collected under the label Bueng Kan. Since it's the first province creation I am witnessing, there'll probably be lots of postings about it. So tonight I will start the Wikipedia article on this province, unless someone else is faster of course and I can only enhance it with more sound content. At the time of writing this posting, the Thai Wikipedia article isn't updated yet.

And now L.A. has to be renamed, it is no longer Changwat 77 (จังหวัดที่ 77) - though technically this new province is actually Changwat 76 as Bangkok is no province but a special administrative area at the same administrative level as the province.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Village headman elections in Prachuap Khiri Khan

Issueing the ballot paper
Last week, in Muban 2 of Khlong Wan, Mueang Prachuap Khiri Khan district, Prachuap Khiri Khan province the village headman was about to be elected. Now there are more than 70,000 Muban in Thailand, and the term of a village headman is 5 years, so this in average on every day there are about 40 such elections, way too many to cover them on here at all. But since the above mentioned Muban is the home of expat blogger Mike from thailand-blogs.com, and thus could write a first-hand experience of this most local part of the Thai democracy, first covering the campaigning and the headman tasks and then also the actual voting process. The photos on this posting are also courtesy of Mike - for more of his photos see the daily posting on his photo blog.

The election took place in the village hall on July 29, between 8 am and 3 pm. There were two candidates, the incumbent village headman had the ballot number one and his contender the number two. The polling station was manned - well, as the photos show it were actually mostly women - by officers from the subdistrict administration Khlong Wan, as well as overseen by one police officer and the returning officer from the provincial election commission. A total of 1005 citizen were eligible to vote, and the voting process did not look any different from what I am used to from here - first the identity check, then the marking of the ballot paper in the ballot booth, and finally dropping it into the ballot box. Those undemocratic ways I wrote about once seem to be only a matter of the past by now, at least for the actual voting process even for this very local election everything is done by the same standard as it is for a nation-wide election.
  • Candidate 1: Yothin Yuangboribun (นายโยธิน ยวงบริบูรณ์) received 330 votes or 58%
  • Candidate 2: Sutthisan Thasanthakdi (นายศุทธิสาร ทัศนภักดี) received 236 votes or 42%
Therefore, the incumbent village headman was confirmed in his post for another five year term.

Candidate 1, Yothin Yuangboribun
Candidate 2, Sutthisan Thasanthakdi
In the past, the post of a village headman had changed from a very unpopular to a rather popular one, since among the village headmen the subdistrict headman is elected, and that one had a lot of access to funds via the subdistrict council. An example of the dirty elections which were the result is described in the book by Daniel Arghiros. But since the introduction of the Tambon administrative organizations with their elected councils in the second half of the 1990s, the village headman returned back to mostly work and status and no access to funds. But not sure if the introduction of the village funds by Thaksin and though modified still continued till today turned the wheel in the other direction again. The salary of 8000 Baht a month, only recently raised, can't be such a big attraction to start illegal practices like vote-buying. But a deeper analysis goes beyond what a blogger can do, for such one has to delve into the scientific publications of the sociology and politics departments of the universities.