Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rename of Muban in Phayao

Today, the rename of one administrative village in Phayao province was announced in the Royal Gazette [Gazette]. Village 11 of Sop Bong subdistrict, Phu Sang district has been renamed from Ban Pa Sak (บ้านป่าสัก) to Ban Mai Don Tan (บ้านใหม่ดอนตัน). The rename was decided in the meeting 5/2011 of the board to consider name changes on December 23 2010. The announcement was subsequently signed by the province governor of Phayao on March 17 2011.

The announcement only gives a very short rationale of the rename, stating that the new name fits better geographically and is also justified by the history of the village. Sadly, the website of the municipality Sop Bong does not include any history of their constituent villages, thus I can only guess that maybe village 11 was in past split off from village 1, which is named Ban Don Tan (บ้านดอนตัน). Only thing I can find out is that the village was created after 1998, as in the 1998 subdistrict area definition it wasn't listed yet. Interestingly, some pages including ThaiTambon list village 11 by the name Ban Mai Pa Sak (บ้านใหม่ป่าสัก). The word "mai" for "new" would suggest that it is somehow related with a village named Pa Sak, but it only has a village with that name in neighboring Pa Sak district.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Non-continous constituencies?

Some days ago, Richard Barrow asked me about the constituencies in his home province Samut Prakan. While I could easily give him the list of districts and subdistricts in each of the constituencies from the official announcement, after a short Google search I also found the list of candidates in each of the constituencies - and even a PDF with all the constituency candidates. But what I cannot find was a map which shows the extend of the constituencies, the most obvious way to visualize them.

For this election, Samut Prakan is divided into seven constituencies. The population in each constituencies varies between 155,000 in constituency 6 and 195,000 in constituency 4. Like in all other provinces, constituency 1 covers the central parts, yet due to the high population only parts of the Mueang district. In fact, the district is divided into three constituencies. On the other hand, constituency five contains two complete districts, and two more subdistricts from two further districts.

The interesting part came when I added the constituency boundaries into the district map created by fellow Wikipedian hdamm. The subdistrict boundaries I used failed to make constituency two a single continuous area. As I recalled from an earlier Royal Gazette announcement on municipal constituencies, the originally announced constituencies had to be revoked since they did not form two continuous areas, so I was suspecting there was something wrong, maybe I had misread the subdistrict names and highlighted the wrong one, or more likely that the boundaries I used were flawed.

The area in question is the boundary between the subdistricts Theparak and Phraek Sa of Mueang district, which I found to be separated by Phraek Sa Mai subdistrict. To be sure that this boundary is correct, I checked the announcement on the creation of Phraek Sa Mai subdistrict from 1995. This really confirms, that the northern boundary of Phraek Sa Mai starts at the corner of Theparak and Bang Mueang, so Phraek Sa cannot have any boundary with Theparak.

Thus there are only two possible answers to this strange constituency boundary. Either, non-continuous constituencies are allowed in the current election laws for the nation-wide elections - but my Thai clearly isn't good enough to find and read the relevant law - or quite unlikely that the Election Commission has drawn invalid constituencies.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Entity number statistics

Last week, the Department of Local Administration not uploaded the list of municipal changes in the current fiscal year, they also added an updated version of their various lists, including the one with the numbers of the various local administrative units. As of June 20 2011, there are
  • 76 provincial administrative organizations (PAO), though the one for Bueng Kan isn't elected yet
  • 2010 municipalities - 27 cities, 145 towns and 1838 subdistrict municipalities
  • 5765 subdistrict administrative organizations (TAO)
  • 2 special administrative areas (Bangkok and Pattaya)
Interestingly, just now I noticed the corresponding list from the Department of Provincial Administration has been updated as well, though it was already signed on April 20. Thus, as of March 31 2011, there are
  • 76 provinces
  • 878 districts (not including those within Bangkok)
  • 7255 subdistricts (not including those within Bangkok)
  • 74955 administrative villages
  • 2010 municipalities - 26 cities, 144 towns and 1840 subdistrict municipalities
  • 5765 subdistrict administrative organizations (TAO)
  • 2 special administrative areas (Bangkok and Pattaya)
Comparing with last year, apart from the municipal changes there was of course one new province together with its PAO, and also just one new administrative village (created March 2010 in Surin).

Friday, June 24, 2011

1914 Directory for Bangkok and Siam

While I knew about the 1894 Directory for Bangkok and Siam published by White Lotus - but never saw it in a bookstore so didn't had a chance to look inside it yet - now the webmaster of Bangkok Library discovered a later issue of the same publication to be available as a free download at It contains a wide variety of data - from a short history and geography of Siam, the reproduction of major international treaties as well as laws up to a list of government officials in each of the Ministries. The most interesting part for me is the section on the Local Administration starting on page 177. As the whole text is in the public domain already - the reason why it can be made available for free - I reproduce it here, especially as the OCR within the PDF hasn't seen any proofreading. In this first posting comes the general description. Later I will post the list of government official posts within the Monthon and Mueang, and finally the list of Monthon and their subdivision.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday linkage

The Thai Logo Lover blog features emblems, logos as well as Google Doodle from all over the world, but also some official emblems of Thai municipalities. Most notable, there I found the description of the emblem of Surat Thani with the meaning of the elements, including the date it was officially approved, the kind of information I would love to have on all the municipal emblems of Thailand. On the website of the city of Surat Thani I haven't found a bit on their emblem.

So I now know that originally after its creation in 1935 the municipality used the garuda, and on June 1 1939 the emblem was approved by the Ministry of Interior. The wings and anchor stand for the function of Surat Thani as major harbor of southern Thailand. In the middle of the rays is the Thai constitution, symbolizing that the municipality is under the rule of the Thai democracy.

Speaking of the municipal emblems, my reader Ian is now traveling in the deep south, and while in Pattani he took a photo of the emblem of the town Pattani - which is almost identical with the emblem of the province. And on another day he was in Yala, among other things visiting the government complex and the city pillar shrine.

And the final link from other blogs is also about a city pillar shrine, Tom visits the shrine in Khon Kaen and complains about the lack of valuable information on the shrine on the net.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Municipal changes in fiscal year 2011

With the lack of the meeting transcripts, the earliest I was expecting to know the complete municipal changes in this fiscal year (which started in October 2010) when the Department of Local Administration compiles their annual report and posts it on their local administration data page. Normally this happens around the end of the fiscal year, so it was quite surprising that already today a new word document was added to that page, which contains the whole list of municipal changes from October 1 2010 till June 20 2011. I can only suspect that no further changes are planned till October, maybe due to the forthcoming election - or they will update the document again later. Anyway, in the table below I list them all sorted by their date of becoming effective, including links to this blog and the Royal Gazette in case the change was announced already. Only the two latest ones are still pending the announcement in the Royal Gazette.

October 8TAO Du Tai, Nan to subdistrict municipality (ทต.ดู่ใต้)Blog, Gazette
October 28TAO Bu Kraeng, Surin to subdistrict municipality (ทต.บุแกรง)Blog, Gazette
October 28Ton Pao subdistrict municpality, Chiang Mai to town (ทม.ต้นเปา)Blog, Gazette
November 10Wang Nam Yen subdistrict municpality, Sa Kaeo to town (ทม.วังน้ำเย็น)
includes merge with TAO Wang Nam Yen
Blog, Gazette
November 11Om Noi town, Nakhon Pathom to city (ทน.อ้อมน้อย)Blog, Gazette
February 10Ang Sila subdistrict municpality, Chonburi to town (ทม.อ่างศิลา)Blog, Gazette
April 29Rangsit town, Pathum Thani town to city (ทน.รังสิต)Gazette
May 13Khao Rub Chang subdistrict municpality, Songkhla to town (ทม.เขารูปช้าง)Blog, Gazette
May 26Wichian Buri subdistrict municpality, Phetchabun to town (ทม.วิเชียรบุรี)
June 20Wang Saphung subdistrict municpality, Loei to town (ทม.วังสะพุง)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rename of Tambon Nong Kheng, Bueng Kan

Published in the Royal Gazette last Thursday, one subdistrict in Bueng Kan has been assigned a new name. Nong Kheng (หนองเข็ง) in Mueang Bueng Kan district has been renamed to Non Sawang (โนนสว่าง), probably as of the date the announcement was signed, March 4 2011. As it is written in the announcement
เนื่องจากมีชื่อซ้ำกับบ้านหนองเข็ง หมู่ที่ ๓ ตําบลหอคํา อําเภอบึงกาฬ จังหวัดหนองคาย ทำให้เกิดความสับสนในการประสานงานและติดต่อราชการซึ่งได้รับความเห็นชอบจากคณะกรรมการหมู่บ้านสภาเทศบาลตําบลหนองเข็งนายอําเภอบึงกาฬ และผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัด

Because the name is duplicate with Ban Nong Kheng, Mu 3 of Ho Kham subdistrict, Bueng Kan district, Nong Khai province, which creates confusion in coordination and contacting government service. Therefore received positive opinion from the village committee, municipal council of Nong Kheng, head district officer of Bueng Kan and the province governor of Nong Khai.
The change was then approved by the committee on name changes in their 5th meeting of 2010 on December 23, and the announcement signed by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Vichien Chavalit (วิเชียร ชวลิต) on March 4 2011. As the province Bueng Kan was created March 22, this announcement therefore still places the subdistrict into Nong Khai province.

The reason why the name Non Sawang was chose is quite easy - the first of the Muban in the subdistrict is named Ban Non Sawang, in fact none of the Muban of the subdistrict is named Nong Kheng. But originally, the name was chose correctly - Ho Kham subdistrict was created in 1975 [Gazette] by splitting off 8 Muban from Nong Kheng, including the Muban which gave the subdistrict its name. Thus in fact this rename does fix the confusing naming created in 1975, when they should have given the name Nong Kheng to the subdistrict containing the corresponding Muban.

There will probably be a second announcement on this rename later, as I guess that the subdistrict municipality Nong Kheng (เทศบาลตำบลหนองเข็ง) will be renamed accordingly as well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Elected village leaders

Yesterday, a very interesting article was published in The Nation, basically a rant of a spokesman from the provincial administration bureaucracy on the suggested changes by the National Reform Council. As the whole piece is worth reading, it wasn't easy to pick few main parts to quote
Any attempt by a future government to abolish the system of the Interior Ministry appointing village representatives up to provincial level - and replacing it with the election of local leaders - will be vehemently opposed, the influential Governing Officer Association of Thailand (GOAT) said yesterday.
Surasak warned that Thailand would disintegrate and be replaced by "many pockets of small states" if governors were elected along with others like village headmen.
The Nation, 2011-06-16, Elected village leaders could lead to 'disintegration of the country'
It is basically the same thinking as shown in the proposal of a half-appointed parliament by the PAD and their New Politics Party - the citizen are too stupid to choose their right representatives, so any decentralization and democratization at local levels will bound to fail. Better stay with the well-known and claimed-to-be successful bureaucratic polity, the system already described by Fred W. Riggs in his 1967 book "Thailand: The Modernization Of A Bureaucratic Polity".

It is of course not surprising to read such a conservative statement by someone from within the provincial administration bureaucracy, it would be interesting to see if the winner of the forthcoming election will dare to change anything in this system, implementing some or all of the proposals of the National Reform Council. Too bad I haven't yet found a good English description on what the actually propose for the provincial and local administration. It already took me quite some time to find the Thai name of this association with the strange acronym - สมาคมนักปกครองแห่งประเทศไทย.

But there is one thing I real wonder about in the article, and especially the headline. The article suggests that right now all of the administrators - from provincial governor, district head officer, subdistrict headman and down to the village headman are officials sent from the Ministry of Interior. While this is true for the two higher levels, the headmen are and always were a thing in the middle. The Ministry has to approve them, and they are under strong control of the Ministry and the higher administrative levels, but they are and as far as I know always were elected by the local population. And since 1997 every five years, and not for life (till retirement age actually) as in the past. I can only guess that the article was written by a Bangkokian, who never lived in any village outside the town and thus never experienced the election of a village headman.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Khao Rub Chang upgraded to town municipality

Announced in the Royal Gazette on June 1st were two municipality upgrades. One is the already mentioned upgrade of Rangsit to a city municipality [Gazette], the second is the upgrade of Khao Rub Chang subdistrict municipality to a town municipality (เทศบาลเมืองเขารูปช้าง) [Gazette]. Khao Rub Chang covers the area just south of Songkhla city, and was just upgraded from a TAO four years ago, and interestingly the announcement on that change was not yet published in the Gazette.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Amphur Bar & Cafe

I have found the perfect place for the first Changwat Amphoe Tambon blog reader meetup - the Amphur Bar & Cafe in Surat Thani. Only drawback is its location, not just a bit far off in the South of Thailand, but also already a bit outside the town center. And it will be still a long time till this event, as I am already back in Germany when this posting will become public, so no earlier than 2012. And I am still a bit reserved to go to a place which does not use the officical RTGS transcription.

But seriously, the reason for naming this bar Amphur is simply that it is located on the Amphur road (ถนนอำเภอ, literally district road), in the west of Surat Thani city. I have no idea why that street was named this way, as the district office is located on the other side of the city. But the street signs fit perfectly for my blog, now I only have to find a Changwat road and a Tambon road somewhere...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thai Election Posters 2011

Being in Thailand during the election campaign had the advantage of being able to see the many posters placed all over the city - slogans to train my Thai, parties I never heard of (and probably won't hear about after the election either), constituency candidates from being boringly normal to somewhat strange, these posters offer a wide variety. Though fellow blogger Vaitor had already posted a good overview on these posters, I cannot hesitate to post one myself stretching the topic range of this blog a bit.

In Bangkok every street is full of these posters, except the street passing Chitralada Palace and some areas around Grand Palace, probably declared off-limit by the Election Commission. However, in contrast to this within Surat Thani city there were just a handful of posters at all, only along the highway outside the city they were a more common sight. And while in Bangkok it has constituency candidates and policy posters mixed, in Surat there Phuea Thai had almost only their slogan posters and almost none with the constituency candidates, for the Democrats it were only the candidates, usually together the Abhisit. Looks like Phuea Thai sees no chance in winning the constituencies in the Democrat homeland, wonder if it is other way round in Isaan? The reason why Bangkok has the highest election poster density is quite obvious - with more than 10% of the electorate living there a poster can reach many more potential voters in Bangkok than in the rural areas.

Another general observation - I have only seen Democrat posters defaced, even in the most literal way as with the poster where one can now pose as Prime Minister. Maybe a first sign of the potential result?

Since showing all my photos around the election would make this posting way to long, the full set can be found at this picasa album. If anyone wants to use them, they are cc-by - just taking these photographs wasn't an intellectual work. I might even add a few more on my last days of this vacation.

First the two major posters by Phuea Thai. To me as an observer the slogan seems like the best way to shoot the own foot - it reads "Thaksin thinks, Phuea Thai does". It just reminds everybody that the real name of the party is Phuea Thaksin, and if someone hasn't noticed from the slogan he also made his sister the front runner of the campaign. I wonder if those who support Thaksin really need this kind of reminder on what to vote, as these posters also make sure none of the opponents of Thaksin will vote for Phuea Thai by accident.
Interesting are those posters where two parties reply each other. The first example shows Phuea Thai saying "Think New, Do New", on which Bhum Jai Thai replies with "No need to think new, do new - but think good, do good".
On the transportation issues, it has the Democrats promising twelve new lines for the Skytrain (meaning not just the BTS Skytrain, but also MRTA and maybe other operators), whereas Phue Thai just offers ten. As during Thaksins time in office any new lines were effectively blocked but now several lines are under construction, I much more believe the Democrats in their promise.
Unintentionally the poster of Chart Pattana Puea Pandin Party candidate Sophon Damnui (โสภณ ดำนุ้ย) featuring the panda Lin Ping fits great with the "No animals" campaigns on what remains of the PAD. At one place the two posters where even placed near each other as found in the Thai fail blog. A more detailed explanation of the panda poster can be found at fellow blogger Saksith.
And as the final pair of posters - if the election were a beauty contest, my vote certainly would go to Dr. Rachada (รัชดา ธนาดิเรก), Democrat candidate for Bangkok constituency 33. But of course any collection of Thai election posters would be incomplete without Chuwit (ชูวิทย์ กมลวิศิษฎ์), so I placed him as the second part of this unequal pair.

Friday, June 3, 2011

QTH aka Maidenhead geo locator

QTH over Europe,
by Mysid at Wikimedia Commons
At an unexpected place - the monthly astronomy magazine Sterne und Weltraum - I discovered another system for the alphanumerical encoding of a geographic location. The QTH or Maidenhead locator of the first level consists of two letters and two digits, encoding a rectangle of 1 degree latitude and two degrees of longitude. For higher accuracy a second group of two letters is added, which then encodes a rectangle of 2.5' of latitude by 5' of longitude. At this level, with just six characters a rectangle not wider than 12 kilometer is uniquely encoded.

Bz splitting these into 100 subsquares encoded by their number makes the squares 30" in longitude and 15" in latitude, or less than 500 meter. Rarely used is another group of two characters, which then reaches the accuracy of GPS receivers, and while the algorithm could allow more levels these obviously are nonsensical.

This locator is mostly used by amateur radio stations, not my field of interest, but for whatever reason this locator is also used in the satellite tracking software GPredict which was tested in the magazine. I already found a free implementation of this algorithm and included it into my code, same as I did previously with the Geohash, but it does not yet work fully and I did not yet have the time to debug and fix the probably minor glitch in my modification.

Not really a necessary addition, as the only system of encoding geographical locations used by the Thai authorities is the MGRS variant of UTM, it is still a nice gimmick in my geo class when I make it fully work.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bueng Kan judiciary area

With its announcement in the Royal Gazette on May 23rd, the area of jurisdiction of the provincial court Bueng Kan (ศาลจังหวัดบึงกาฬ) has been adjusted to the boundaries of the newly created province [Gazette]. Though actually, no adjustment was needed, as the original creation of the provincial court in 1991 listed the same area, only that there were just 5 districts at that time which in the meantime had been split into eight.

Additionally, a juvenile and family court was established for Bueng Kan [Gazette]. And also the other two acts published on that day deal with the judiciary areas and Bueng Kan - the list of the provinces of the appeal court has been extended accordingly [Gazette], same as in the amendment to the criminal procedure act of 2520 [Gazette].