Wednesday, December 28, 2011

3 TAO upgraded to municipalities

Three more TAO were upgraded to subdistrict municipalities and published in the Royal Gazette on December 23rd. All three were signed on September 12, however only two became effective on that day as well.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas gift for coordinate lovers

When I last mentioned the MGRS coordinates found in several of the Royal Gazette announcements, there was the question on how to convert them into the more easily accessible latitude and longitude values. I had all the necessary source code within my own application, but in order to use it one needs to be a programmer - or at least have Visual Studio installed and be able to compile it. So not really something which a normal computer user could do.

But as its now the time of year for gifts - and Christmas trees show up in Bangkok as well even though their don't belong into the culture there - I have now split the relevant parts of my source code into a separate application which does nothing else but the coordinate transformation. It is still more of a prototype than a good application, but at least it should be easy to use and should enable everyone who is interesting with a way to see in Google Earth what was meant by the MGRS coordinate.

Since I wanted to add some visual sugar as well, there is a map display which directly shows the location. For a start, I used the Beta version of the official Bing maps control, which is still quite limited but was easy enough for a start. Main limitation is that to use it one needs a key, and I doubt I can supply my key with the application. If you have one, it needs to be added into the file "GeoTool.exe.config", which however is well hidden due to the way WPF applications install in Windows. But even without it, the map will display, but with an ugly banner over it.

To avoid that everyone asks for the same enhancements of this tool, here's my main to do list. If you can think of anything else, feel free to comment, though I won't promise anything...
  • Easy way to set the maps key, or be able to avoid it altogether
  • Have an interactive map, so can drag the marker on the map and see the coordinates changing
  • Have other map providers, Google Maps as the one with best satellite data, OpenStreetMap maybe. Have to find a good control which does the magic.
  • Some art work, for example an application icon.
So finally, to get that little tool, all you have to do is download the 436 kByte zip file, unpack and install it. There's of course no warranty whatsoever.

And of course a Merry Christmas to anyone who celebrates it, and a happy new year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kong Khwai TAO upgraded to municipality

Yesterday, the upgrade of the TAO Kong Khwai (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลกองควาย) to a subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลกองควาย) was announced in the Royal Gazette. It is probably effective as of November 30, the date the announcement was signed by the Deputy Minister of Interior Chuchart Hansawat (นายชูชาติ หาญสวัสดิ์). The issue was discussed in one of the last board meeting transcripts I could find, meeting 52/2010. However, in that meeting no date was set for the upgrade

There are however two interesting things around this upgrade. At first, this change was not listed in the document with the municipal changes for the current fiscal year yet when I last downloaded it, as it was only including the changes till October 7 (plus two scheduled ones, one for November 30 and one for December 21). Thus it does not mention Kong Khwai, and I have to hope for an update of the list by DOLA to see if there are more upgrades forthcoming.

The second strange thing is the timing. Almost all the upgrades of TAO and municipalities happen when the term of the council and mayor has ended, to avoid local elections to happen to often. However, in this case the latest election was in February 2009, thus it is now mid-term.

An interesting observation - on the Thai Wikipedia the article on the subdistrict Kong Khwai as well as on the district Mueang Nan was updated by an anonymous editor earlier today. Sadly, on the English Wikipedia I am still alone to keep the pages up to date, and thus many of the municipality status are still not correctly there.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Municipality area changes in Chiang Mai

Announced today was the change of area of the municipalities Chom Thong (เทศบาลตำบลจอมทอง) and Ban Luang (เทศบาลตำบลบ้านหลวง), both in Chom Thong district of Chiang Mai province. Though it was announced in two separate publication [Chom Thong, Ban Luang], in fact the two belong together as it was a transfer of area from Ban Luang to Chom Thong.

The reason for this transfer of area goes back to the creation of the sanitary district Ban Luang back in 1956 [Gazette], which at that time only covered the more densely populated area around the district office. In 1999 the sanitary district was upgraded to a municipality, in 2000 it was renamed to Chim Thong [Gazette], to have the same name as the district. In 2009 the TAO Ban Luang was upgraded to a municipality as well [Gazette], but since this covered the whole subdistrict area except those parts covered by Chom Thong municipality, this in fact meant that the municipality Ban Luang is split into two parts - the main part west of Chom Thong, and a small appendix east of it till the Ping River, which marks the boundary to Lamphun province. With these two announcements, this oddity is corrected, giving Ban Luang municipality a continuous area, and enlarging Chom Thong municipality to the west. Also a smaller area west of the original Chom Thong at the southern boundary of the subdistrict is added.

Sadly I have not enough time to create a map showing the old and new boundaries, so if you're interested in the details, there are maps are in the above linked announcements. The image above is from the 2009 TAO upgrade announcement, and shows Chom Thong hatched, and the subdistrict boundary by the thicker line.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Subdistrict headmen with a different title

When I was checking the website of Mae O subdistrict administrative organization (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลแม่อ้อ) in Chiang Rai, I found that unlike most websites of local government units they not only present their current personnel, but also the past chairmen of the TAO were listed on a separate page. Starting with the chairman of the Tambon Council (ประธานสภาตำบล), who was ex officio also the subdistrict headman, two more chairmen elected by the council (ประธานกรรมการบริหารองค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล) and since 2002 the directly elected chairmen (นายกองค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล). Sadly there's no explanation for the more than one year without any office holder from 2004 to 2006. Anyway, such complete lists of office holders are rare to find, and even more rare the past TAO council chairmen or the TAO clerks are lists.

But even more interesting is the history page, which is in fact the history of the subdistrict and not just of the TAO. And here all the previous subdistrict headmen are also listed. The notable part is the title given for the headmen before 1978 (until headmen number 10), which are listed as Pho Khwaen (พ่อแคว่น), literally "father of land/region". I guess it was only the local name for the headman, who still officially had the title "Kamnan", as already back in 1908 the names for the subdivisions and their leader were consolidated. Before that year, in the north the subdistricts were named Khwaen, and the headmen Nai Khwaen (นายแคว้น). As the table was reconstructed and the compiler did not know the years for the headmen before 1974, the title Pho Khwaen might also be simply due to the fact that the compile did not remember when the title Kamnan became official.

Friday, December 9, 2011

HDI Index by province

While monitoring the "Provinces of Thailand" page on Wikipedia, I noticed that a user has added a "List of Thailand provinces by Human Development Index". I only looked into it in detail because I noticed that all the provinces were linked to the province capital or a disambiguation page, but not the actual article on the province.

Yet first a short explanation on the Human Development Index (HDI) intends to encode how much the society has developed, combining the life expectancy, education and literacy as well as the student enrollment, and the gross domestic product into a single numerical value. The highest value of 0.943 is reached by Norway, the lowest of 0.286 by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thailand as a country reaches 0.682, a medium development.

As the above listed indicators could also be applied to country subdivisions, it is possible to show the best and least developed parts of country as well. Thus I turned the values in that list into a nice map, using colors from green to red to encode the different values found in the provinces - it is interesting that not just Bangkok and Phuket reach a very high value, but also the province Chiang Mai. And not all of the northeastern provinces have low values, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Ubon Ratchathani all are above country average as well, whereas some of the central provinces like Ayutthaya score quite low.

However, one of the problems of the list can be seen in the map already - there are several provinces without colors, as the list only includes 51 provinces. And while it includes Bueng Kan and Nong Khai before and after the split, it also includes Pattaya which is no province at all. But the biggest problem is that it completely lacks any references, thus I have no idea if the numbers are valid, who and how calculated them.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Subdistrict boundary change in Roi Et

Another of the announcements published in the Royal Gazette last Friday was yet another subdistrict area definition, this time for two subdistricts in Roi Et [Gazette]. Since I have no time to do the detailed documentation of the change and compare it with the definition from 1997 - like I did it with a similar announcement earlier this year - there is one more interesting item within this announcement.

As usual, the announcement contains the list of Muban names within the subdistricts affected, in this case Dok Mai (ตำบลดอกไม้) and Sa Khu (ตำบลสระคู) of Suwannaphum district. I usual use these lists to add them into my XML directly, and thanks to the new font in the PDFs this works easily by copy-and-paste. However, the Muban list for Sa Khu is unusual, as for the first 5 Muban the names don't start with บ้าน (Ban), like it is in all other announcements of this kind. In fact, the same shows within the Muban list from 1997, and also the Muban list on the website of Sa Khu TAO.
  • หมู่ที่ ๑ คุ้มกลางเมืองใหม่ (Khum Klang Mueang Mai)
  • หมู่ที่ ๒ คุ้มหลังศาล (Khum Lang San)
  • หมู่ที่ ๓ คุ้มวัดเหนือ (Khum Wat Nuea)
  • หมู่ที่ ๔ คุ้มวัดสว่าง (Khum Wat Lang)
  • หมู่ที่ ๕ คุ้มใต้ (Khum Tai)
  • หมู่ที่ ๖ บ้านน้ําคําน้อย (Ban Nam Kham Noi)
  • ... (21 Muban altogether)
These five administrative villages are those located in the town Suwannaphum (เทศบาลตำบลสุวรรณภูมิ), and given the historical origin of this town as an old Mueang, the translation of Khum by Longdo dictionary as "residence of a Lao prince in the north of Thailand" fits well. So the word Khum looks like an alternative word for Ban in this case.

Whereas in past I was unsure whether the word Ban belongs to the name of the Muban or not, this case only adds more confusion - apparently the word Ban is normally part of the name, but not always.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Municipalities and TAOs renamed

Today, several announcements have been published in the Royal Gazette, changing the names of several municipalities and subdistrict administrative organizations (TAO) - the municipalities are all covered in one single publication, whereas each TAO has a separate one.

The municipality name changes [Gazette] are all effective November 30, with the announcement signed on November 7 by Deputy Interior Minister Chuchart Hansawat (นายชูชาติ หาญสวัสดิ์). The five changes are as follows.
  1. Ra-ngaeng subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตําบลระแงง), Sikhoraphum district, Surin renamed to Sikhoraphum (เทศบาลตําบลศีขรภูมิ) to match with the district name, as it is the municipality around the district office.
  2. Sop Yao subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตําบลสบยาว), Ko Kha district, Lampang province renamed to Ko Kha Mae Yao (เทศบาลตําบลเกาะคาแม่ยาว), since it is located within Ko Kha subdistrict and was the TAO Ko Kha before its upgrade in 2009.
  3. Na Wai Yai subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตําบลนาหว้าใหญ่), Pathum Ratchawongsa district, Amnat Charoen province renamed to Pathum Ratchawongsa (เทศบาลตําบลปทุมราชวงศา), as it is the municipality around the district office.
  4. Ban Len subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตําบลบ้านเลน), Ban Pa-in district, Ayutthaya province renamed to Ban Pa-in (เทศบาลตําบลบางปะอิน), as it is the municipality around the district office.
  5. Nong Kheng subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตําบลหนองเข็ง), Mueang Bueng Kan district, Bueng Kan province renamed to Non Sawang (เทศบาลตําบลโนนสว่าง), following the rename of the subdistrict earlier this year.
Additionally, two subdistrict administrative organizations are renamed.