Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Linkage

Terry Fredrickson, English language teacher and editor of the learning section of Bangkok Post, had prepared a lesson around the creation of Bueng Kan province. As he is only compiling lessons out of news reports and had no background knowledge on the administrative system in Thailand, he promptly fell into the traps due to the sloppy reporting I ranted about earlier. I only stumbled upon this lesson as he tweeted the move of the Learning Post into the main Bangkok Post website and I had a quick look at it. He placed all my suggestions into an appendix of the lesson, and even though I would have preferred it to be worked into the lesson itself this is obviously much better than keeping a wrong report uncorrected on the website for years.

Bueng Kan municipality,
Photo by Isaanlife
Isaanlife has made a visit to Bueng Kan area, and inspired by my map of the administrative offices has focused on taking photos of exactly these buildings. As mentioned in his blog, he has made a map mashup with my placemarks and his photos. The photos are also visible alone in a Picasa album. Most notable he tried to find the site of where the province hall is to be built, and it seems this is close to the Rajabaht University campus next to the TAO Non Sombun office - which does not show yet in Google Earth as the satellite imagery of the area dates back to 2003.

Another interesting read are Cod's ramblings on colonization, mentioning both the fact Siam/Thailand was never colonized and how proud the Thais are of this, but also the less-known internal colonization done by the central government to the outlying areas of Pattani or in the Issaan.

And finally to return some link-love, Angloinfo has a page where they collected addresses of local government offices in Phuket and adjoining Phang Nga and Krabi provinces. Probably useful for the expats living in the area, and since they listed my blog as the resource for more detailed information on the administrative system I get occasional visitors from that site.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Google maps business for Thai government agencies

When writing about the upgrade of Bu Kraeng TAO to a municipality, I tried to find the location of the TAO office with Google Maps as well. However, Google placed it right next to the district office of Chom Phra, clearly wrong, but then I tried to locate the office of Chom Phra instead.

Google Maps placed the municipality office about 2 kilometer southweat of the district office, but somehow the building there did not look that much as an office building. So I looked at the website of the municipality to maybe find a photo of the office and confirm Google - but then I instead found that I found one of the few local government websites who made use of Google Maps themselves already. Embedded on one subpage is the map I also include below, showing the boundary of the municipality, the location of the district office, the district assembly hall, two schools and also the municipality office.

ดู แผนที่เทศบาลตำบลจอมพระ ในแผนที่ขนาดใหญ่กว่า

But back to the first location - when looking at it again, when clicking on the icon returned by the search the popup among others showed a "edit details" link. The search had returned me one of the business entries in Google Maps, a collection of placemarks imported from various business address books. Here in Germany, these are usually pointing directly to the building they belong, but for the rare cases where they are wrong anyone can correct them - unless the business owner claims them and then all other editing is blocked. The reason for the wrong location is probably the difficulty to parse a Thai address, which is based on lot numbers and not the more straight-forward street numbers used here. As the lot numbers have no logical order, one would need a full database of lot number locations to parse an address into a geolocation. At least for the entry of the municipality office Chom Phra, with the help of their own Google map, I have now fixed the location. But there are still many many such wrong locations waiting for their business owners or volunteer correctors, I even had seen a resort on Samui placed into Surat Thani city, only because that is the province capital...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Merge of TAO and Thesaban Wang Nam Yen

Only little bit over one month ago, in the meeting 43/2010 of board one to consider draft laws, the merge of the subdistrict administrative organization (TAO, องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลวังน้ำเย็น) and the subdistrict municipality Wang Nam Yen (เทศบาลตำบลวังน้ำเย็น) was approved, now the corresponding announcement was published in the Royal Gazette. Sadly the announcement does not state the date this merger becomes effective, so I can only guess it has already happened between the board meeting and the Gazette publication.

The municipality, which was created as a sanitary district in 1980 originally only covered a rectangular area around the main highway as one can see in the map enclosed in the Gazette announcement of the sanitary district creation. The TAO was created in 1995 by upgrading the Tambon Council, and it covered the remaining area of the subdistrict Wang Nam Yen, thus completely encircled the municipality. Sadly this is about all I know about the TAO, their website has already expired, but even when it was still running it had not much information anyway - especially sad that their emblem was not depicted anywhere, nor the location of their office was shown. The map within the current announcement shows several placemarks including the location of the municipality office, but does not list the former TAO office.

Another interesting detail about the municipality is that their mayor Wanchai Narirak (นายวันชัย นารีรักษ์) was already the first elected chairman of the sanitary district in 1994. It's not clear whether he won all the elections in the meantime as well, though I think it is quite likely.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Female district head officers

When I found the complete list of all head district officer (นายอำเภอ) as of middle of 2009, this table allowed me to do some interesting statistics because, as usual for Thai name lists, the title is included with the name.

Out of the total of 877 districts - this list dates before the creation of Galyani Vadhana district - most of the district officers have the title นาย (Nai), simply Mister, altogether 853 district officers are civil men. Only 16 have various military titles, and even more striking is the fact that just four of the head district officers are female, two being a Ms. (นางสาว) and two a Mrs. (นาง), though since a recent change in the name title act it does not mean these two are really married. Another four districts were vacant at the time of the list.

The four female district officers are the following
  • Mrs. Kitsuda Chanson (นาง กิจสุดา จันทรสนธิ), Mueang Nakhon Nayok district, Nakhon Nayok province
  • Mrs. Nipha Suwannasutrat (นาง นิภา สุวรรณสุจริต), Phu Phiang district, Nan province
  • Ms. Pani Natanat (นางสาว ปาณี นาคะนาท), Ban Phraek district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya province
  • Ms. Wanya Kamtenitngam (นางสาว วรรณา กําเหนิดงาม), Thap Than district, Uthai Thani province
The military titles found in the list are the following, with their English translation found thanks to an older blog posting on New Mandala. I am not sure if there are any female officers among these, but it wouldn't change the overall rate of female district officers that much.
  • พันจ่าอากาศเอก (พ.อ.อ.) - Flight Sergeant First Class (1FS), 1 person
  • เรือโท (ร.ท.) - Junior Lieutenant (JLT), 2 persons
  • เรืออากาศโท (ร.ท.) - Flying Officer (Flg Off), 1 person
  • ร้อยตรี (ร.ต.) - Second Lieutenant (2LT), 1 person
  • ร้อยโท (ร.ท.) - First Lieutenant (1LT), 1 person
  • ว่าที่ร้อยตรี - Acting Second Lieutenant, 8 persons
    Now, I leave it to the reader to connect the rate of 0.5% female officers with the official statement of gender equality posted today at the government information outlet.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Eat the town

    Kin Mueang (กินเมือง), literally "eat the town" was the traditional way of payment for the local administration until the thesaphiban reforms of King Chulalongkorn at the begin of the 20th century.

    A more fitting way to translate that term would be "eat from the town", since at those times the administrator like the provincial governors were not paid by the central government, but earned their living directly from the town under them. They had to send a fixed amount to the central government, so any additional funds they could earn from their town was their salary. Thus the more ruthless administrators were the ones who could become the richest, and since the normal populace was not allowed to choose their residence freely they were totally at their governor's mercy.

    For the lower administrative posts, the correct term was Kin Tamhaeng (กินตำแหน่ง, eat the position), but the actual system was the same - the official had to deliver a fixed amount to his superior, and any additional funds he could make by his position were his salary. Especially the tax farmers, mostly of Chinese origin, became quite rich in this way.

    Though this system was abolished more than 100 years ago, and the government staff became a fixed salary instead, it doesn't mean that after that there were no attempts ways of extract additional salary from the local sources. Of course these were then illegal ways like corruption, but as the salary especially for the lower ranks are hardly appropriate one could think these illegal means were somehow sanctioned by the government.

    I am not sure if it's related, but nowadays many of the officials are shuffled around in their posts, it is rare to have a province governor or district head officer to serve in the same locality for more than two years, especially province governors often get moved to a new province after just one year. One reason to do so may be to avoid that these officers built a local income net, in their short time in one specific place they hardly have the time to learn who could bribe them best.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Rename of Muban

    Published today in the Royal Gazette are two name changes of administrative villages (Muban). Both were decided in meeting 2/2010 of the board on name changes from April 23.
    • Ban Bai (บ้านไบ้), Mu 5 of Budi subdistrict, Mueang Yala district, Yala province, changed spelling to บ้านไบ้ก์, as this is closer to the actual name in Malay language. [Gazette]
    • Ban Wiang Sang Kham (บ้านเวียงซางคำ), Mu 12 of Pa Sang subdistrict, Wiang Chiang Rung district, Chiang Rai province, renamed to Ban Pa Sang Bun Nak (บ้านป่าซางบุนนาก), as this name matches with the name of the temple of the village. [Gazette]

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Myth and Realities: The Democratization of Thai Politics

    I am currently reading the book Myths and Realities: The Democratization of Thai Politics by Yoshifumi Tamada, which is on the development from Black May 1992 to the 1997 constitution until Thaksins win in the 2001 general election. Though not directly on the topics of this blog, a very interesting read due to the similarities with the current political situation as well as the differences, and also as the massive changes in this time are one reason for the return to the old style of Thai politics in 2006.

    The 1990s have been the start of the decentralization, most notably by the upgrade of the Tambon Councils to Tambon Administrative Organizations, the upgrade of the sanitary districts to municipalities and also changes in the Provincial Administrative Organizations, all now elected local government bodies. Therefore these changes are also a minor topic of the point, though the most detailed on it is only found in footnote one of chapter three. I am quoting it completely:

    In the early 1990s, both the budget and the number of local government employees accounted for less than 10% of those of the national government. Interior Ministry officials, including the provincial governors, played the key roles in this centralized system of local administration. One of the main aims of the decentralization campaign was to replace provincial governors appointed by the Interior Ministry with popularly elected local government heads. However, the provincial governor's offices were very important within the Interior Ministry bureaucracy, being equal in rank and prestige to the ministry director's post. Thus for many Interior Ministry officials, such an appointment is the highlight of their career. It was only natural, therefore, that the ministry should stubbornly resist. Furthermore, decentralization was not only a problem for the Interior Ministry, but would affect almost all of the ministries and departments of the central government. Although some ministries actually welcomes the prospect of less supervision by the Interior Ministry officials, they attempted to protect themselves from the waves of decentralization by delegating authority to local agencies (deconcentration). Many party politicians were not very enthusiastic about decentralization, either. One reason was that they had long relied upon the cooperation of bureaucrats in elections. More importantly, though, decentralization would reduce the powers of ministers, and thus the vested interests of party politicians. As a result, a compromised form of decentralization was agreed upon in 1994 that was to upgrade about 7000 small administrative wards (tambon) throughout the country to municipal government status. The Tambon Council and Tambon Administrative Authority Law came into force on 1 March 1995. Further decentralization occurred thereafter. Prior to these changes, rural areas other than cities and sanitary districts had been governed by the province as local administrative units. Since rural areas came under the governance of tambon administrative authorities, the provincial governments were reorganized (on 1 November 1997) to preserve themselves. Also, based on the provisions concerning decentralization in the 1997 Constitution, there was a wholesale revision of related laws and regulations on local government.
    Sadly, the two references which are quoted then are in Japanese only, so even less accessible than Thai source. The provincial governments mentioned are the PAO, which had overlapping responsibilities with the TAO and therefore needed a thorough revision.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Educating Headmen

    The Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) has put a series of lectures on their websites, which are intended to give the village and subdistrict headmen additional training on their jobs. Most of the texts, which are all available as Winword files, are written by professors at the school of administration (วิทยาลัยการปกครอง). Below is the complete list with the rough translated lecture titles - so far I have looked inside only three of documents, and only with Google Translate to get a quick overview, as most of the topics don't sound that interesting to me.

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Bueng Kan municipality

    The municipal act says that the capital municipality of a province qualifies to have town status (Thesaban Mueang), and all of the provinces have their capital as either town or city currently. As the municipality Bueng Kan has currently subdistrict municipality status, the question is whether it will receive an upgrade with the creation of the new province, same as the towns Amnat Charoen, Sa Kaeo and Nong Bua Lamphu, which were all upgraded directly from sanitary districts to towns in 1994.

    The subdistrict municipality Bueng Kan (เทศบาลตำบลบึงกาฬ) was created in 1956 as a sanitary district [Gazette], and upgraded to a subdistrict municipality in 1999, when all of the sanitary districts were upgraded. It has just a population of 4653, as it covers only parts of the subdistricts Bueng Kan and Wisit. With this small population it'd be by far the smallest town - for normal towns the population has to be at least 50,000, so I was expecting only the provincial capitals to be below this margin - but that'll be a topic for another posting. But Mae Hong Son as the smallest provincial capital is already a very small town, it has just 6525 citizen, so such small towns are not completely unusual.

    However, if I read the Thesaban act of 1934 correctly, it states that the municipality which qualifies to be a town is the one in the subdistrict which contains the province hall. But for Bueng Kan, the province hall will be built in Non Sombun subdistrict (though the district office will be the temporary province hall at first), so that would mean the TAO Non Sombun would be the one which qualifies to become a town, not Bueng Kan. On the other hand, there are at least two province where the province hall has been moved outside town recently, i.e. Nakhon Pathom and Kamphaeng Phet, but in these provinces no changes has been made with regard to the municipal status of the area which now houses the province hall. I don't know if there were any changes in this specific item in the Thesaban act in any of the later amendments which would clear up this issue.

    With a little help from the Wikimapia map of the area, I have done a map which marks the main office locations of the new province, I only don't have yet the exact site where the province hall will be built.

    View Bueng Kan administration in a larger map

    Friday, September 17, 2010


    On the Thai blog of geography professor Phisan Santitamnont I stumbled over a posting on a new way to encode geographical locations named Geohash, advertised as the "ultimate Geocode". As I do some geocoding both for my private photos as well as for the administrative offices within my Tambon project, I found a good description in the Wikipedia article on Geohash.

    It turns out that it is yet another way to encode a geographical coordinate into alphanumeric characters, bearing a few similarities with the UTM and MGRS coordinates. But other than those it does no complicate mathematics to make the geoid flat for having simple linear coordinates, it simply encodes the angular coordinates into binary code, which then is converted into characters using a base32 algorithm, similar with how binary data is sent in email. Nothing difficult for a programmer, so I have added a C# class into my coding project already.

    Basically, the Geohash is a very compact but still readable way to encode a coordinate, a bit like those URL shortening one has to use in Twitter to keep the tweets within the 140 characters. For example w4rqn6k89ysst is the most accurate location for the Bangkok Noi district office. The length of the code depends on how much accurate one wants it to be, for 8 characters the error is about 20 meter, if cutting the last character the code stays valid but has then an error of 80 meter - actually the error is in arcseconds so the actual length differs on the location on the globe. Another good point is that the algorithm is completely in the Public Domain, as there is already a similar approach being patented - one of the infamous software patents.

    Now while this Geohash is a nice thing, I doubt I'd be able to use it anywhere - within my XMLs I use the W3C standard to encode the locations, and all of the government publications use UTM anyway. Besides, these hash codes aren't really human readable, whereas the standard angular coordinates in XML are.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Bueng Kan news clippings

    The last few days had a few new news articles on the planned province Bueng Kan worth to present here.

    Kom Chad Luek (คมชัดลึก, lit. Sharp Clear Deep), a Thai newspaper of the Nation group, has a article titled ผ่า"จังหวัดเนวิน 2"เป้าใหญ่ยึดอีสานเหนือเป้าเล็ก"กินทีละคำ"! - cut off province "Newin 2" is big objective to win northern Isaan, small objective "eat word by word". While I don't get the second part of the headline, the meaning of naming the new province "Newin 2" is clear - the plan to create this new province is pushed by the Ministry of Interior, currently led by Chaovarat Chanweerakul of the Bhum Chai Thai party. And it is an open secret that the real party leader is Newin Chidchob, who is currently banned from politics as one of the former executive members of the dissolved Thai Rak Thai party. Since the new province is quite popular for the citizens in the area, it is very likely that Bhum Chai Thai will be able to grab the seats from the province in the next national election, extending Newins power base and further weakening the Phuea Thai Party. In case anyone is wondering, province Newin One is of course Buriram, where Newin had his constituency; and also the fast rising director of DOPA Vichien Chaovalit was formerly the governor of Buriram.

    While one can of course criticize Newins power plays, I don't think it is fair to include the new province into this. The proposal for it was made more than a decade ago, and if the past Phuea Thai government were smarter they should have pushed it to secure their power base in the Northeast. It is the advantage of a government to be able to do things popular to gain votes, same as they sometimes have to do unpopular things which will make them loose the next election.
    Bueng Kan province and remainder Nong Khai province
    The second one is a shorter article at titled "ส.ว.โวย ก.มหาดไทย ทำสับสน ชี้ บึงกาฬ เป็นจังหวัดที่ 76" - Senator (สมาชิกวุฒิสภา) complained that the Ministry of Interior created confusion whether Bueng Kan is province 76. It seems that Nakhon Ratchasima senator Sumet Siphon (สุเมธ ศรีพงษ์) is a nitpicker same as me, as he pointed out that the cabinet resolution on Bueng Kan erroneously stated that it will become the 77th province, something which then was copied by all Thai media unchecked. As I pointed out before, this is a over-simplification, as it disregards the fact that Bangkok is not a province but a special administrative area and therefore counting it as a province is at least sloppy. At least the government itself should be careful with their wording, that the generally low quality Thai media simply copied the number without any further checking was to be expected.

    And to bash the Thai media more - when doing a Google image search for จังหวัดบึงกาฬ, one can find several maps based on the Wikipedia maps of Nong Khai created by myself some years ago. Not only that they copied the map without giving the source, as it would be required by the Wikipedia license, this article by INN News even shows the outline of the district Bueng Kan as being the new province. Even the official news outlet of the government mixed up the district and the province in their short English article. Another one from VoiceTV mixes up the times and declares the province is already created, though all the other parts of the article are written in future tense...

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Numbered subdistricts

    Among the 7255 subdistricts, there are several with an interesting history behind their naming. One group of subdistricts has their names being simply numbered, named from Khlong One to Khlong Twelve. The first seven of these subdistricts are within the district Khlong Luang of Pathum Thani province, and two futher are in Nong Chok district within Bangkok. However, while the whole number range from one to seven is covered in Pathum Thani, those two in Bangkok have the number 10 and 12 - as far as I know there never was a subdistrict named Khlong 8, 9 or 11.

    When I was looking through some very old announcements in the Royal Gazette, one on the 1915 relocation of the district office on Mueang district in the no longer existing Thanyaburi province lists the previous location as being within the subdistrict Khlong Soi Thi 10 (ตำบลคลองซอยที่ 10) [Gazette]. By using the search function with the Gazette database, it seems the "soi thi" (meaning "branch number") was dropped from the subdistrict names in 1919. The same function also returns that there were subdistricts which had some additional words after the number, e.g. ตำบลคลองซอยที่ ๑๓ ฝั่งตะวันออก (Subdistrict Branch Canal number 13 east side). Sadly I have no complete list of subdistricts of that time, and also many of the subdistrict renamings back then were not announced in the Royal Gazette, so I have no overview how many subdistricts there were originally with this naming scheme.

    Map of Rangsit area, source
    But the base of this naming system is obvious, as the north-south oriented canals (Khlong, คลอง) branching from Khlong Rangsit are simply numbered, and thus the subdistricts were simply named after the canal where they are located. As the canals were the main way of transport at that time, all of the villages were located right at the canal anyway, the land between was then used for farming.

    Tough it focuses more on the irrigation plans for the western rim of the Chao Phraya, the book King of the Waters: Homan Van Der Heide And the Origin of Modern Modern Irrigation in Siam by Han Ten Brummelhuis gives a great overview over the agricultural expansion at the beginning of the 20th century, of which the Rangsit area was only one part.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Municipal decisions from June 3 2010

    Meeting number 25 from June 3 2010 with two municipalities adjusting their boundaries.
    Both municipalities were created in 2008 by upgrading the subdistrict administrative organizations (TAO). It was now found out that the municipal boundaries include part of village 11 of San Na Meng into the municipality San Phranet. Apparently the maps used in the process of creating the municipalities did not show the subdistrict boundary correctly, which is even more surprising as the subdistrict boundaries are to follow natural boundaries.

    Another interesting tidbit on these two municipalities - apparently in San Phra Net there was no election of the mayor yet despite the upgrade being more than a year ago already, at least their website still shows the Palad as being acting mayor.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Postal codes for Bueng Kan

    According to a posting of Wisarut in the 2bangkok forum, the postal codes for the new province Bueng Kan are already defined. Though actually, they are just simply the same as the old postal codes from Nong Khai, with the initial province codes exchanged. Only the postal code for Bueng Kan district itself will change more, as the central postal district has 000 has the final three digits.

    Bueng Kanบึงกาฬ4314038000
    So Phisaiโซ่พิสัย4317038170
    Bueng Khong Longบึงโขงหลง4322038220
    Bung Klaบุ่งคล้า43140380001
    Pak Khatปากคาด4319038190
    Phon Charoenพรเจริญ4318038180
    Si Wilaiศรีวิไล4321038210
    1 may become 38110 if a separated Post Office is needed

    That Bueng Kan province will receive 38 both for the postal code as well as for the TIS1099 geocode I already mentioned before, so it is no surprise at all.

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Administrative offices in Ranong

    Since Ranong is a rather small provincial capital, the main administrative offices are not spread too much, and their original locations not becoming too cramped that a newly built government center needs to be built to replace the nice old buildings.

    City pillar shrine
    The tour starts at the city pillar shrine, which I have covered in detail on my travel blog. Directly across the street is the municipal administration of the town Ranong (เทศบาลเมืองระนอง). On the Google map below it only shows the old office building, but directly next to it a new more representative one was built. As the current imagery on Google is from 2006, it is one of the many local administrative buildings built very recently.
    Old municipality office RanongNew municipality office Ranong
    Old municipality officeNew municipality office
    The province hall (Sala Klang) is located on top of a hill, and though it is rather old it still looks very much like the province halls in other provinces. While the building itself did not catch much of my attention, I much more enjoyed the fence at the small parking lot with the provincial seal inside, and a small park with a statue, I think it shows King Chulalongkorn.

    Province hall Ranong

    Provincial court Ranong
    Province hallProvince court
    Down the hill again one reaches the provincial court (ศาลจังหวัดระนอง), again a building in the standard style, so not the kind of building many people want to photograph. I still wonder why the guard at the entrance did not allow me to take a photo - but luckily he only told after I did the first photo already and was trying to find an alternative view. I never experienced any real security measures around the administrative offices - only at the three southernmost provinces troubled by the insurgence I could imagine the authorities to be more reluctant on photography.
    District office Ranong
    District office
    One the other side of the hill is the district office of the Mueang Ranong district (อำเภอเมืองระนอง). This is a really old building, mainly built by wood.

    I sadly missed the office of the Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO), which I did not find on the map before. When I later found out that it was actually located just across Phetkasem road from the gas station we stopped anyway, if only I had know its location I could do a quick walk over there without the need to ask for another stop. Well, opportunity lost, for the next such visit I will try even harder to have all the locations on my map before. It will probably take many years till I have another chance to visit Ranong.

    View Ranong administration in a larger map

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    New steps towards decentralization

    In the agenda for the latest cabinet meeting on September 7, item 37 sounded interesting. Submitted by the Ministry of Interior, it is titled "ร่างกฎหมายที่เกี่ยวข้องกับการกระจายอำนาจให้แก่องค์กรปกครองส่วนท้องถิ่น รวม ๔ ฉบับ" (Bill about decentralization and local government, issue 4). However the transcript of the cabinet meeting does not contain it, not sure if it was moved to a later meeting, or is simply missing from the transcript.

    So far I don't know what are the actual items to be changed with this amendment of the local government laws, as these should be quoted in the cabinet meeting transcript, and the only recent thing in English is a rather general statement, in which the prime minister claims the government's commitment to decentralization: Decentralization of Administrative Power: An Important Factor for Thailand Reform.

    What I found however are the decisions on the same bill in June last year, then it was issue 3. These then became part of the amendment 13 of the municipality act, amendment 6 of the TAO act and amendment 12 of the local administration act, all published in the Royal Gazette end of last year. I'll of course keep you updated as soon as I find out details on what is in the discussion this time, hopefully that will be before the amendments are published in the Gazette.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Municipal elections in Mae Sot

    The long-delayed municipal elections in Mae Sot finally took place on August 28. The term of the last council and mayor ended on January 28 already, and as it is usual in Thailand after the end of term new election are to be held within 60 days. But as the town was upgraded to a city at this occasion, this meant that new constituencies had to be defined as there are now three instead of two constituencies which each send 6 councilors into the assembly. The problems with the definition of the municipal borders further delayed the constituency definition, which were finally approved by the Election Commission on July 14 and published in the Royal Gazette on August 27 - coincidentally one day before the election day.

    It is apparently not a really big problem to extend the term of an elected body, or more correctly keep it in office as the acting local government after its end of term. In this case it were 212 days till the new election took place instead of the 60 day allowed by law. But if I am not mistaken, this isn't the longest time a local government stayed in office acting, as there are still some of the TAO upgraded in last year where no constituencies has been announced in the Royal Gazette by now.

    Though I doubt any of my readers will know any of the local politicians in Mae Sot, I nevertheless present the full results here, which I found in the online news site ryt9. They show very clearly that the local politics is quite different from the national one, as well as from the local politics in Bangkok. As seen in the results of the Bangkok district elections, these elections are dominated by party politics, especially nowadays the two largest parties Phuea Thai and Democratic Party. However in most local elections, these parties pay no role at all, almost all winning candidates belong to a local party named City Development Group (กลุ่มพัฒนานครแม่สอด), only three independent candidates could win a seat.

    First the mayor (นายกเทศมนตรี), where the incumbent Thoetkiat Chinsaranan (เทอดเกียรติ ชินสรนันท์) was the only candidate, and was elected with 8179 votes. In total, the voter turnout was almost 60%, the total number of eligible voters was 17,214, of which 10,321 did cast their vote. The 24 elected councilors are, hopefully correctly transcribed
    • Constituency 1
      Mr. Kun Khrueawira (นายกุล เครือวีระ), Mr. Sawai Mingoen (นายไสว มีเงิน), Mrs. Chan Chanta (นางจันทร์ จันตา), Mr. Chanthip Samutla (นายจันทร์ทิพย์ สมุทรหล้า), Banchong Madong (นายบรรจง มาคง), and independent candidate Mr. Phrasoet Howichit (นายประเสริฐ หอวิจิตร)
    • Constituency 2
      Mr. Anurak Tanta (นายอนุรักษ์ ตันตา), Mr. Pan Montip (นายปาน มนติ๊บ), Mr. Songkran Rueanchaidi (นายสงกรานต์ เรือนใจดี), Mr. Wasuthon Bunmak (นายวสุธร บุญมาก), Sakun Mekmok (นายสกุล เมฆหมอก), Mrs. Suwanna Khongkhanoi (นางสุวรรณา คงคาน้อย)
    • Constituency 3
      Mr. Ingkhrat Tantiphongsanti (นายอิงครัตน์ ตันติพงษ์ศานติ), Mr. Banchoet Lawanrattanakun (นายบรรเจิด ลาวัลย์รัตนากุล), Mr. Rankrit Kopraphakit (นายรณกฤต ก่อประภากิจ), Mr. Natthaphong Suthonwong (นายณัฐพงศ์ สุทรวงษ์), Mr. Napha Chokaewot (นางนภา ใจแก้วทิ) and independent Police Senior Sergeant Major (ด.ต.) Phrathip Sila (ประทีป สีลา)
    • Constituency 4
      Mr. Somchai Yakhamna (นายสมชัย ยะคำนะ), Mr. Yongyut Chatui (นายยงยุทธ จาตุย), Mr. Supphakon Saengrat (นายศุภกร แสงราช), Mr. Chumphon Chokhrua (นายชุมพล ใจครัว), Atsawin Phinitwong (นายอัศวิน พินิจวงษ์), and independent Mr. Suchetna Phetchaprani (นายสุเจตนา เพชรปราณี)

    Election poster of Manop Siphuegng,
    courtesy 2bangkok
    A second local election took place last Sunday, the by-election of the president of the provincial administrative organization (PAO) of Nakhon Sawan. All of the PAO are currently around mid-term, so the next election should be in 2012, however on July 12 the PAO president Amnat Sirichai (นายอำนาจ ศิริชัย) was assassinated and therefore the post was vacant. Four candidates run for the post, according to the still inofficial results candidate number 1 Manop Siphueng (นายมานพ ศรีผึ้ง) did win by quite a big margin.
    • Candidate 1: Manop Siphueng (นายมานพ ศรีผึ้ง), 207,850 votes
    • Candidate 2: Chamroen Padwai (ร.ต.ต.จำเริญ ปด้วย), 129,619 votes
    • Candidate 3: 8,662 votes
    • Candidate 4: 5,251 votes

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Municipal decisions from July 21 2010

    Meeting number 34 from July 21 2010 with one TAO upgraded to a subdistrict municipality.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Adjoining municipalities with same name

    As in the past, municipalities and sanitary districts only covered the densely populated areas, and often inherited the name from the subdistrict they are located. The remaining area of the subdistrict then became a subdistrict administrative organization (TAO) in the second half of the 1990s, so there are a lot of local administrative units sharing their name. As long as the two were on a completely different level the two are not that easy to confuse, but now recently many of the TAO got upgraded to subdistrict municipalities. In case the original municipality is still a subdistrict municipality, the newly upgraded one has to receive a new name, like e.g. TAO Wiang Sa in Surat Thani has been renamed to Mueang Wiang on its upgrade, to avoid confusion with the municipality Wiang Sa.

    However, when the municipality has town status, this renaming is not done in all cases, as the full name includes the status and thus the subdistrict municipality Sattahip (เทศบาลตำบลสัตหีบ) and the town municipality Sattahip (เทศบาลเมืองสัตหีบ) have different full names. While it is therefore not ambiguous, it quickly becomes a problem once the reference is not dated. Sattahip town was upgraded in 2007, so "subdistrict municipality Sattahip (เทศบาลตำบลสัตหีบ)" means today's town if the text is from before 2007, or it means the former TAO if its from after 2008.

    At least for the case of Sattahip, it was tried to avoid this confusion. In the board where the upgrade of the TAO was decided, the new municipality was planned to be named Khet Udom Sak (เทศบาลตำบลเขตอุดมศักดิ์). However this name wasn't approved by the naming board in its meeting 3/2008, so the new municipality wasn't renamed at all. Only just recently this was rectified, though not yet officially announced. Yet Sattahip isn't the only case where it has the adjoining municipalities with the same name and only different municipal levels.
    • Sattahip, Chonburi - the town was created in 2007, the new subdistrict municipality in 2008.
    • Ban Phru, Songkhla - the town was created in 2002, the new subdistrict municipality in 2007.
    • Ban Chang, Rayong - the town was created in 2005, the new subdistrict municipality in 2007.
    There were three more cases, where the TAO was already scheduled for upgrade last year, but then it wasn't found in the list of TAO actually upgraded - Mae Phrik in Lampang, Makha in Nakhon Ratchasima and Dok Khamtai in Phayao.

    Even more confusiing is the subdistrict municipality Nong Phai in Udon Thani (เทศบาลตำบลหนองไผ่), of which there are two, one in Mueang Udon Thani district and one in Nong Han district. All other cases where there are more than one municipality with the same name and level, these are in different provinces, but in this case one has to add the district. But for example in the geocode list of DOPA this wasn't done, so I have no idea which of the codes 4168 and 4167 belong to which municipality.

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    New license plate images

    Four new license plate background images were announced in the Royal Gazette recently, one was an updated design and for three there was no design yet.
    • Suphanburi [Gazette]
      The dragon from the new Chinese heritage museum next to the city pillar shrine was added to the previous design. The other element easily to recognize is the observation tower in Suphanburi city. I am not sure what the various animals stand for, they might point to the zoo and aquarium at Bueng Chawak.

    • Khon Kaen [Gazette]
      The license plate shows a dinosaur, referring to the Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum. The dinosaurs first discovered in the hills of Phu Wiang have their scientific names pointing to their Thai origin - Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae, Siamosaurus suteethorni, Siamotyrannus isanensis, Kinnareemimus khonkaenensis. The flowers are from the provincial flower, the Golden Shower Tree.

    • Nakhon Phanom [Gazette]
      The design for Nakhon Phanom shows three boats floating on the Mekong river.
    • Phitsanulok [Gazette]
      The license plate for Phitsanulok is rather crowded. The flowers in the middle are probably the flowers of the provincial tree Millingtonia hortensis. To the right is the dam of the Huai Nam Khem reservoir. The cock below it is the Naresuan Fighting Cock, the local breed of cock. The rafting boat refers to the Khek river, said to be most difficult of all rafting rivers in Thailand. Phitsanulok has several waterfalls, but from the photo in the Wikipedia article the one depicted might be Kaeng Sopha waterfall.

    If you can add anything to the above descriptions feel free to post a comment to this article, as I am no specialist about all the local specialties which could make it on these license plates.

    I am slowly filling an album with all the designs, including the ones which were updated already. It seems there is no good website which collects them all in a reasonable resolution, so it seems I can fill a gap again.

    But the best ever license plate in Thailand was posted on Twitter quite some time ago, but you'd need some Thai knowledge to get its meaning.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Local government units renamed

    On August 26, three announcements were published in the Royal Gazette, each one about the renaming of one local government unit.
    • TAO Khok Tum (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลโคกตูม), Nong Khae district, Saraburi province, has been renamed to Khok Tum-Phon Thong (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลโคกตูม-โพนทอง), as the TAO covers both the subdistrict Khok Tum as well as Phon Thong. [Gazette]
    • TAO Ban Paen (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบ้านแป้น), Mueang Lamphun district, Lamphun province, has been renamed to Tha Chiang Thong (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลท่าเชียงทอง). This rename avoids confusion with the adjoining subdistrict municipality Ban Paen (เทศบาลตำบลบ้านแป้น) [Gazette].
    • The subdistrict municipality Kayu Boko (เทศบาลตำบลกายูบอเกาะ), Raman district, Yala province, has been renamed to Mueang Raman (เทศบาลตำบลเมืองรามันห์), as it covers the central part of the district Raman. It also avoids confusion with the TAO Kayu Boko (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลกายูบอเกาะ). [Gazette]
    All three name changes had been decided upon in meeting 23/2010 on April 29 by the board to consider draft laws. Neither the transcript of that board meeting nor the announcements mention which meeting of the board to consider name changes these items were considered, but it must have been meeting 2/2010 on April 23.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Province governor reshuffle 2010 - part one

    The province governor reshuffle effective October 1 is now starting to be finalized, the first changes have now been decided in the cabinet meeting on August 31. These only cover the province governors who get promoted to higher posts inside the Ministry of the Interior, the now vacant posts will be filled with the main reshuffle probably to be decided next week.
    • Surachai Khan-asa (นายสุรชัย ขันอาสา), Samut Prakan governor, to be director-general of the Community Development Department;
    • Sumeth Saengnimnual (นายสุเมธ แสงนิ่มนวล), Chiang Rai governor, to be inspector-general;
    • Surapol Pongthadsirikul (นายสุรพล พงษ์ทัดศิริกุล), Chachoengsao governor, to be deputy permanent secretary for interior;
    • Wallop Pingpong (นายวัลลภ พริ้งพงษ์), Samut Sakhon governor, to be deputy permanent secretary for interior; and
    • Chonchuen Boonyasas (นายชนม์ชื่น บุญญานุสาสน์), Uthai Thani governor, to be deputy permanent secretary for interior.
    Additionally, Vichien Chaovalit (นายวิเชียร ชวลิต) has been assigned to become the new head of the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA), replacing Mongkhon Surasatcha (นายมงคล สุระสัจจะ), who has been promoted very rapidly. Also, the Department of Local Administration (DOLA) gets a new director-general, Kwanchai Wongnitikorn (ขวัญชัย วงศ์นิติกร), who was governor of Samut Prakan 2008-2009.