Thursday, December 27, 2012

License plate background for Bueng Kan

Over the Christmas days, the Royal Gazette continued to publish announcements since these days are no holidays in Thailand. On the 25th, four announcements of provincial graphical license plates for passenger cars were published, among them the license plate for the latest province Bueng Kan created in 2011.

The graphic shows the same elements already present on the provincial seal - Phu Tok hill, the abundant water in the province, most notably the Mekong river, and the forests. Especially if comparing with the colored province seal, the similarity of the two artworks becomes obvious.

The other three provinces which get a new license plate are Satun, Kamphaeng Phet and Loei. I will write up a separate blogpost on them in the next days, but for those who cannot wait can find the graphic already in the web album.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Times between local elections

As I am now adding lots of local election details into my XML, it now becomes possible to do some automatic calculation of election statistics. Though I am far from having a full coverage of the local elections of the most recent past - right now I have 4775 council elections with at least the election date - a few quite interesting things show up.

At first, most of the local election take place on either Sunday (4244 or 89%) or Saturday (410 or 9%), but there were also election on every other weekday. But it gets more interesting when I have more than one election date for a given local council, as then it is possible to calculate the time between the end of term and the election of a new council. By law, after the end of term the next election has to take place within 45 days, however this can be extended by the Election Commission. This takes place especially when the constituencies of the election need to be changed, either because the size of the council has changed, or the population numbers within the constituencies have changed significantly.

The number of days without a council within the limited data I have so far differs from 31 days, e.g. for Chiang Mai municipality earlier this year, when it had the election on April 8, exactly one month after the term ended on March 8. Quite striking however is the longest time I have spotted so far, more than once year for Pho Sadet municipality in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The TAO Pho Sadet was upgraded to a municipality effective October 7 2011, the first day after the TAO council term had expired. However, the first election for the municipal council and municipal mayor took place on November 11 2012, more than one year after the upgrade. For whatever reason, it took so long to split the area of the subdistrict into two constituencies with roughly equal population, as the constituencies were officially announced on October 10 2012, just shortly before the election date.

Right now, the median value of interregnum lengths is 52 days, however this is mostly a selection effect since I have mostly the election data for TAO upgraded to Thesaban - as soon as I add more of the recent TAO elections the number will certainly go down. But since it such a big pile of data to work through, and only part of it as handy Excel sheets which I can convert to XML code easily. In order to show how the data is represented in the XML, below is the code for the Pho Sadet council elections, snipped to show only the most relevant parts.

<entity type="Tambon" name="โพธิ์เสด็จ" english="Pho Sadet" geocode="800118">
<office type="MunicipalityOffice">

<official title="Mayor" name="เกรียงศักดิ์ ด่านคงรักษ์" begin="2012-11-11" beginreason="ElectedDirectly" />
<official title="TAOMayor" name="เกรียงศักดิ์ ด่านคงรักษ์" begin="2007-10-07" end="2011-10-06" beginreason="ElectedDirectly" endreason="EndOfTerm" /></officials>
<term begin="2012-11-11" type="ThesabanTambon" size="12" comment="Constituencies took 1 year to finish" />
<term begin="2007-10-07" end="2011-10-06" type="TAO" size="18" />

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dissolved PAO councils

When I wrote about the 2004 elections for the Provincial Administrative Organizations (PAO) councils and chairmen, I mentioned that for Buriram the election did take place some months earlier, but couldn't explain that in detail. Now while trying to follow the PAO elections this year and compiling information on the previous elections, I could finally make more sense out of it.

The first elections for the Provincial Administrative Organizations (PAO) under the 1997 PAO act took place on February 5 2000 in all provinces - already except Buriram which had that election on September 7 1999. Another four year before, there were elections for PAO councils on December 24, though these were still PAO as defined by the Provincial Administration act. When the 1997 PAO act came into effect, these councils were converted into the new style PAO without a new election, so all of the council ended their term December 23 1999. All except Buriram, because that PAO council was the first one which was dissolved before its nominal end of term and then had early elections.

With a list of local governments ending their terms in 2008 I was able to reconstruct all the PAO election dates in 2004 - only Buriram and Kanchanaburi were missing in that table. Buriram had its election already on December 14 2003, but for Kanchanaburi I was able to find that there were elections on March 14 2004 and then again on February 2 2008, thus before the end of the four year term. It took me some time on Google to find an old news report explaining this odditiy - the council was dissolved on September 10 2007, but for whatever reason the election did not take place within the normal 60 days after the dissolution.

This year the PAO elections have been spread over the whole year thanks to the Election Commissions of some provinces taking long time to prepare new constituency definitions - if I am not mistaken Samut Prakan and Kanchanaburi even have no scheduled election date yet nor have their constituencies announced. This makes it much more complicate to follow than with one or two election dates, so I almost missed the third case of a dissolved council. The PAO of Surat Thani was elected on April 20 2008, and had its election this year on June 24, only slightly after the 45 days which would have been the deadline after a normal term end. However, it turned out that in fact the council was dissolved on December 16 2011, and it took six months to have the election due to the need of new constituencies boundaries - the council was enlarged from 30 to 36 seats because of the population in the province surpassing 100,000 since 2010.

I haven't yet read the PAO act to check what are the reasons why a council can be dissolved, but from what I found in the reports on the three cases mentioned above it seems that the dissolution was caused by the council not being able to agree on a budget.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Changwat Krung Thep

Driving the Nonthaburi-Bangkok road, I spotted a very strange sign at the boundary between Nonthaburi and Bangkok. Sadly there was no chance to stop as the road is currently very narrow due to the construction of the Pink Line Skytrain which once finished will connect Nonthaburi with Bangkok very conveniently, so I could not take a photo at that time, and haven't yet returned to Bangkok yet. But luckily now Google Streetview comes to my rescue to proof I wasn't imagining things, and having something to show with this post.

The sign reads "Khet Changwat Krung Thep", and had a second similar sign below it I could not read fast enough. The strange thing - Bangkok is not a Changwat, like I have written about that Bueng Kan is the 76th province, and not the 77th like so many believe not knowing the administrative details of Bangkok Metropolis. Yet while I can understand that many laypeople don't know these details, I was clearly surprised that an official sign does show this wrong information.

Well, actually there was a Changwat Krug Thep, but only for the short period between December 1971 when the provinces Phra Nakhon and Thonburi were merged, and December 1972 when the law on the special administrative area of Krung Thep became effective [Gazette]. But even during that time it wasn't named Changwat, but "Nakhon Luang Krung Thep Thon Buri" (นครหลวงกรุงเทพธนบุรี). While the sign I spotted was a bit weathered, it was certainly not 35 years old, so it must have been made at a time when it was really wrong already. Amazing Thailand as usual...

But in fact even more amazing is to try the term "จังหวัดกรุงเทพ" on the Royal Gazette search page, as this returns more than 100 results. For example in 2006 the Election Commission announced the Senator election in Bangkok calling it Changwat [Gazette] - though in the actual PDF it is correct without Changwat, only in the search index it is wrong. Though I haven't checked them all, this seems to be only an issue with the database, where the clerk entering the topic fell into the misconception that Bangkok is a province.

View Larger Map

Monday, December 3, 2012

New district for Chiang Mai

The plan to create yet another new district in Chiang Mai to be named Nanthaburi (อำเภอนันทบุรี) seems to be getting steam. In September, the proposal was submitted to the province governor, who then already gave his support to the plan - and this was renewed by the newly appointed governor as well. End of October, the PAO Chiang Mai also approved the proposal. Today, the strategy group of the province administration (กลุ่มงานยุทธศาสตร์จังหวัดเชียงใหม่) had the proposal on its agenda as well. The report on this meeting says that the proposal will be submitted to the Ministry of Interior soon, proposing to create the district as a special case since it does not match the normal criteria for a new district.
  • a population of at least 25,000
  • at least 4 subdistrict
  • new district office to be at least 20 kilometer away from the district office of the parent district
  • approval by the local government entities affected
The proposed district will have just two subdistricts - Mae Tuen (ตำบลแม่ตื่น) and Mon Chong (ตำบลม่อนจอง) - which together have a population of just 15,388 (as of December 31 2011). I don't fully understand that according to the article today this new district is supposed to be done as part of the 80th birthday celebration of HM the Queen, as that was already in August this year, and the district cannot be created retroactively.

As can be seen in the map, the area of the new district (in red) is very remote not just from the district Omkoi to which it belongs now, it is also about the most remote part seen from the center of the province. Yet even though it is so remote, Google Streetview was already there...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Area transfer between TAO and Thesaban Pa Ko Dam

Boundary as of 2012
Another municipal change was announced yesterday, the transfer of some area of the TAO Pa Ko Dam (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลป่าก่อดำ) to be added to the municipality Pa Ko Dam (เทศบาลตำบลป่าก่อดำ) [Gazette municipality, Gazette TAO].

When the sanitary district of Pa Ko Dam was created in 1992 [Gazette], it covered the most densely populated area around Phayon Yothin highway, not taking care of the subdistrict boundaries. Thus the sanitary district did cover parts of the subdistrict Pa Ko Dam as well as smaller parts of Chom Mok Kaeo. Later in the 1990s, decentralization became the new policy, turning the sanitary district into a subdistrict municipality in 1999, and creating the TAO Pa Ko Dam in 1996. This additional local government unit thus covered the remaining area of the subdistrict - which is cut into two halves by the municipality.

Boundary as of 1992
This bisection of the TAO has now been changed, the whole eastern part of the TAO - mostly mountainous areas east of the river Maenam Lao - has been added to the municipality, leaving the more populous western part to the TAO. According to the meeting transcript of meeting 55/2012 on August 27, this affects the administrative village (Muban) 12 and parts of Muban 7 and 8, but sadly doesn't mention the population numbers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thung Kwao TAO upgraded to municipality

The first of more than 140 TAO upgraded to municipalities in August has been officially announced in the Royal Gazette last Friday [Gazette]. I am only covering this first one as I won't be able to write a posting on all the forthcoming announcements - at least I hope they will be published in the Gazette, not like those four years ago which are still not yet published there.

The TAO in this announcement is Thung Kwao (เทศบาลตำบลทุ่งกวาว), Mueang Phrae district, Phrae province, about 3 kilometer northeast of the town center of Phrae. With a population of 6010 (as of December 31 2011) it is one of the rather small municipalities - though there are a lot smaller ones as well. The upgrade has been effective on August 31, one week after the term of the TAO council and mayor has ended. And quite fast, the new council and mayor were already elected on October 21 - thanks to the local Election Commission which finished the constituencies before the upgrade became effective [Gazette]. The new mayor is Prakit Suphaphon (ประกิจ สุภาผล), previously the village headmen of Mu 5, who defeated the last TAO mayor Phichit Patmaphonphong (พิชิต ปัทมาภรณ์พงศ์) with 1,639 votes vs. 1,547 votes.

Quite interesting is the transcript of the board meeting 28/2555, in which the upgrade of Thung Kwao was first discussed. Most is of course just the lengthy text which is present for every such act. But, this upgrade was discussed in a public hearing in Thung Kwao, in which out of 4,559 eligible voters 749 approved the upgrade and 748 disapproved - quite a small margin of approval.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Province governor reshuffle 2012 (Part 3)

In last weeks cabinet meeting (November 12), the third part of the province governor reshuffle was approved. A total of 23 posts were reassigned, mostly vice governors being promoted to their first term as a full province governor, replacing the vice governors which were acting province governors after that position became vacant in the earlier reshuffles - or in some cases the acting governor becomes the official governor. The cabinet meeting transcript does not give the date by which the reassignment becomes effect, but from a post in an Amnat Charoen forum it seems they are effective November 19.

As usual the transcription of the names is done manually and hopefully without any big mistakes.
  • Wirawat Chuenwarin (นายวีระวัฒน์ ชื่นวาริน), governor of Maha Sarakham to become governor of Amnat Charoen.
  • Suwit Subongkot (นายสุวิทย์ สุบงกฎ), vice governor of Kalasin becomes governor of Kalasin.
  • Chumphon Saengmani (นายชุมพร แสงมณี), vice governor of Lamphun to become governor of Nan.
  • Thongchai Lue-adun (นายธงชัย ลืออดุลย์), vice governor of Mukdahan to become governor of Bueng Kan.
  • Aphinan Chansang (นายอภินันท์ จันทรังษี), vice governor of Nakhon Pathom to become governor of Buriram.
  • Chuchat Kifapaeng (นายชูชาติ กีฬาแปง), vice governor of Chiang Mai to become governor of Phayao.
  • Monthiao Thongnit (นายมณเฑียร ทองนิตย์), deputy director-general in the MOI to become governor of Phetchaburi.
  • Aphichat Todilokvet (นายอภิชาติ โตดิลกเวชช์), vice governor of Samut Sakhon to become governor of Phrae.
  • Nophawat Singsakda (นายนพวัชร สิงห์ศักดา), vice governor of Udon Thani to ebcome governor of Maha Sarakham.
  • Sakonsat Bunpradit (นายสกลสฤษฎ์ บุญประดิษฐ์), vice governor of Nakhon Ratchasima to become governor of Mukdahan.
  • Choetsak Champathet (ว่าที่ร้อยตรี เชิดศักดิ์ จำปาเทศ), vice governor of Kanchanaburi to become governor of Ranong.
  • Phinit Thanphanit (นายพินิจ หาญพาณิชย์), vice governor of Chiang Rai to become governor of Lamphun.
  • Nueachai Chiraaphirak (นายเหนือชาย จิระอภิรักษ์), vice governor of Chumphon to become governor of Satun.
  • Phakthon Thianchai (นายภัครธรณ์ เทียนไชย), vice governor of Chonburi to become gopvernor of Sa Kaeo.
  • Suraphon Saengsak (นายสุรพล แสวงศักดิ์), vice governor of Ratchaburi to become governor of Singburi
  • Mrs. Sumitra Sisombat (นางสุมิตรา ศรีสมบัติ), vice governor of Chachoengsao to become governor of Sukhothai
  • Suphat Sisunthonohinit (นายสุภัทร์ ศรีสุนทรพินิต), vice governor of Suphanburi to begcome governor of Suphanburi
  • Chatpong Chatphut (นายฉัตรป้อง ฉัตรภูติ), deputy director-general in the MOI to become governor of Surat Thani .
  • Chaloemchai Phoengkhon (นายเฉลิมชัย เฟื่องคอน), vice governor of Uttaradit to become governor of Uttaradit.
  • Phongsathon Satchacholaphan (นายพงศธร สัจจชลพันธ์), vice governor of Kanchanaburi to become inspector general in the MOI.
  • Pradit Sukontasawat (นายประดิษฐ์ สุคนธสวัสดิ์), vice governor of Narathiwat to become inspector general in the MOI.
  • Athit Bunyasophat (ว่าที่ร้อยตำรวจโท อาทิตย์ บุญญะโสภัต), deputy director-general in the department of disaster prevention and mitigation to become inspector general in the office of the office of the permanent secretary.
  • Nisit Chansomwong (นายนิสิต จันทร์สมวงศ์), deputy director-general in the department of community development to become inspector general in the office of the office of the permanent secretary.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ko Samui municipal constituencies

With every change of status of a municipality the number of constituencies changes, thus whenever a TAO is upgraded to a municipality or a municipality gets upgraded to a higher municipal status the Election Commission has to draw constituencies for the council election. The constituencies are then announced in the Royal Gazette, but as there are so many of them I only add the basic information while adding them in my XML (as of today I have 2491), and of course normally don't mention them here.

Yesterday, the constituencies for Ko Samui were announced, which has been upgraded from a town municipality to a city municipality effective September 14. With the upgrade, the council has changed from 18 to 24 members, to be elected in four constituencies each having six seats. While most constituency definitions describe the boundaries even if the boundaries are identical with those of the administrative villages, in this case only the subdistricts and villages for each constituency is listed. For example, constituency one consists of village one to three of Ang Thong subdistrict, the whole Lipa Noi subdistrict and village one and three of Taling Ngam.

But since I have no map showing the boundaries of the administrative villages, this kind of definition doesn't help me much to create a map showing their outline. On the website of the municipality I found an announcement from a committee within the provincial office of the Department of Local Administration with three proposals for the constituencies - of which number one was then later chosen. The announcement has an archive attached, which contains maps for the three proposals - however sadly just photographs of the maps, thus not that sharp and not planar either.

The three constituencies for the town municipality from 2008 are defined by a boundary description only, the two constituencies of the subdistrict municipality defined in 2004 however also lists the subdistricts and villages. Apparently, the constituencies for the first municipal election in 2000 wasn't published in the Royal Gazette. But I found no maps for those, and not enough time to try to get the village boundaries from the map above and then merge the polygons to the 2004 constituencies.

Now the constituencies are defined, the Election Commission has to set the date for the election - as the council term ended on September 13, without the upgrade the election must have been within 45 days, thus no later than October 28. Not sure if there is any maximum delay between constituency definition and election, but as far as I know no date has been announced yet. Since the website of the Surat Thani Election Commission is not updated often (the latest found there is from June this year), the better place to find the date would be the Facebook page of the municipality...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Three new license plate graphics

On Monday, three new province graphics for car license plates were announced.
  • Udon Thani [Gazette] The artwork has changed quite a bit, though the main elements of the 2005 design are still present - the pottery from Ban Chiang, the peculiar shaped rock of Phu Phra Bat Buabok and some orchid flowers. Newly added are other artifacts from Ban Chiang, the large lotus field of Kumpawapi lake, and the provincial flower Flame of the forest to the left.
  • Phang Nga [Gazette] The graphics is almost identical with the one announced back in 2008 - only the colors have slightly more contrast now.
  • Suphanburi [Gazette] It is already the third design announced for Suphanburi. Compared to the previous one from 2010, no new symbols were added, only the Suphanburi tower as well as the Dragon Museum are now placed as photographs instead of drawings - which to me make them look rather artificial within the design.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Three new Muban in Tak

Yesterday the creation of three new administrative villages in the province Tak was announced in the Royal Gazette. Signed by the province governor on October 10, the change became effective October 19.
  • Ban Mae Ku Noi (บ้านแม่กุน้อย), village 7 of Mae Ku subdistrict, Mae Sot district, is split to create village 11 named Ban Mae Ku Burapha (บ้านแม่กุบูรพา).
  • Ban Mae Ku Nuea (บ้านแม่กุเหนือ), village 8 of Mae Ku subdistrict, is split to create village 12 named Ban Mai Don Chomphu (บ้านใหม่ดอนชมภู).
  • Ban Rom Klao Sahamit (บ้านร่มเกล้าสหมิตร), village 5 of Khiri Rat subdistrict, Phop Phra district, split to create village 13 named Ban Rom Klao Charoen Suk (บ้านร่มเกล้าเจริญสุข).
Minor note - this time the coordinates in the announcement are given as full MGRS coordinates, e.g. ๔๗Q MU ๕๗๓๕๘ ๔๐๐๓๒. Normally the 47Q at beginning is omitted, as it is obvious which UTM zone is meant.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Local election coverage at Election Commission

In the last weeks, a lot of local governments - especially Subdistrict Administrative Organizations (TAO/SAO) - had elections for their councils and usually also for the mayor. These are the reason why I haven't been able to post as regularly and in-depth here lately, as I am trying to keep up to date with all these and incorporating at least the basic data - the name of the mayor and the begin and end of the terms of the mayor and the council - into the XML files. In order to do so I have to rely on the data posted at the website of the Election Commission (ECT), or more exactly at the sub-pages maintained by the provincial branch offices of the Election Commission.

I have found several very detailed files already, most helpful so far are two Excel sheets which list all the entities which have their term ended in this year and in 2009. And the most detailed data for one specific province is available from the Trang office - an Excel sheet with all the councilors and mayors and their dates of election, including by-elections of councilors. Last updated in May 2011, it helped me to get Trang almost completely covered. Just hope there'll be an updated version of that file after the current row of elections is done.

But sadly only some of the provincial commissions keep their webspace updated, with items like a complete election reports containing all candidates and the votes they could win, or at least a list of winners like the one I just recently worked through for Nakhon Si Thammarat. Others provincial branches did not update their election calendar for months, or have no results from any elections. The worst is Bueng Kan, there even the start page shows a "Under construction" sign - should have been enough time since the creation of the province to get the website filled with content as well. But since its simply impossible to work through all the 3116 local elections this year, I focus on the southern provinces and those where I find very comprehensive documents - browsing through several long PDF just to find an election date is just beyond what I can manage. Of course I would be happy if anyone would help to update the XML files, then I could focus on programming something using these data, like my own dynamic election calendar.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Muban rename in Chiang Rai

Today, the rename of the administrative village number 11 in Chedi Luang subdistrict, Mae Suai district, Chiang Rai was announced in the Royal Gazette. The rename was approved on August 9 in meeting 4/2555 of the board to consider name changes, and one month later on September 19 signed by Chiang Rai vice governor Surachai Linthong (สุรชัย ลิ้นทอง).

The village was originally named Ban Pa Tueng Ngam (บ้านป่าตึงงาม) - though the TAO website lists it without the final "Ngam" - and was created between 1998 and 2005. It is now renamed to Ban Mai Saeng Kaeo (บ้านใหม่แสงแก้ว). The rename was done due to the fact that village 1 of the subdistrict is also named Pa Tueng Ngam. Since the creation of village 11 was done before the Muban creations have been published in the Royal Gazette, I can only guess that village 11 was created by splitting off a part of village 1.

On the TAO website I also found the full order by the province administration as sent to the TAO administration, including on page three the scan of the original of what is now published in the Royal Gazette.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Local administration numbers October 2012

The Department of Local Administration (DOLA) has published the numbers of the various local administrative entities at the end of the fiscal year, i.e. October 1 2012. This thus includes all the municipal changes in the past fiscal year - the central administrative subdivisions are not part of this release, as these are under the responsibility of another department - and except a few new Muban there were no changes in those numbers anyway.
  • PAO (องค์การบริหารส่วนจังหวัด): 76
  • Municipalities (เทศบาล, Thesaban): 2266
    • City municipalities (เทศบาลนคร, Thesaban Nakhon): 29
    • Town municipalities (เทศบาลเมือง, Thesaban Mueang): 167
    • Subdistrict municipalities (เทศบาลตำบล, Thesaban Tambon): 2070
  • TAO (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล): 5509
  • Special administrative areas (องค์กรปกครองส่วนท้องถิ่นรูปแบบพิเศษ): 2
Comparing to the numbers of last year (though the list was from DOPA then), the municipal numbers have changed - 2 new cities, 12 more towns, and 170 more subdistrict municipalities, and 184 TAO less. Though a few of the TAO were directly upgraded to towns, the two new cities were towns before, so there were a few more than 184 municipal changes this year. I am now waiting for the list of all the changes to be updated, I am not sure if the board meeting transcripts are complete or an already approved changed was not executed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"The Nation" gets it all wrong

On November 7, village and subdistrict headmen from all over the country plan to stage a protest at the Royal Plaza to protest against the amendment of the Local Administration Act, which is scheduled to be discussed in parliament that day. Now this won't be noteworthy as I already reported about similar protests earlier, but what is striking is the article published by "The Nation" on this topic.
Kamnan and village headmen nationwide will rally in Bangkok next month to demand that their terms end at the age of 60 rather than after five years in office, as is the case at present.
Apparently "The Nation" lives in a different time, as the current active law has the headmen end their term at 60, it is the amendment in the legislative process right now which would change that. That sentence would have been true between 1999 and 2008.
He said he expected a large gathering, as there are about 250,000 Kamnans and village headmen nationwide.
There are 74956 administrative villages in Thailand as of December 2011. Not all of these have a headman - Muban within a town or city municipality (until Amendment 12 of the Local Administration Act this was mandatory), thus there are definitely less than 75000 headmen. Subdistrict headmen are also village headmen, so there don't add to that number. Only if including the (non-elected) deputy headmen - every Muban has two deputies, not sure about the Kamnan - one could reach to the number of 250,000.
At present, each kaman and village headman works to a five-year term, replacing the previous rule that allowed each to stay in the position until reaching the age of 60.
As already stated, this is totally bogus.
Kunae said that they wanted to back to the previous rule, claiming that the present rule did not respond to continuity of work and caused widespread corruption.
It's interesting that every change is claimed to lead to corruption or electoral fraud, and of course every interest group claims that in their proposal it will have less of these evils. Since there were 10 years with short terms already, why has nobody thought about doing a survey if there was more or less corruption during these times than in the last 4 years.

In my humble opinion, how can one have more corruption if an office holder has to stand re-election every five years, and at that time has to explain his actions and performance or any wealth accumulation to the electorate. Even though such a check by the electorate isn't working well in Thailand yet, it is still better than to hope for the superiors to remove bad headmen from their office. Besides, if an election is for twenty or thirty years instead of five years, then the stakes are much higher and thus also the temptation to use illegal ways to get elected.

But as mentioned in the last posting on this topic, as long as the transitory clause to keep those headmen currently in office till aged 60, the amendment is not worth much, and the current headmen don't need to worry about their investments into gaining their post.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Phuket to get a new province hall

The Ministry of Interior will invest 450 million Baht (15 million US$) to build a new province hall in Phuket. The province administration currently still resides in the historical province hall, a wooden building already 103 years old and already a registered monument under the protection of the Fine Arts Department since 1977 [Gazette]. The new building will be located right across the street from the historical building, an area which is currently occupied by tennis courts and the Sanam Chai sports field.
Plans to spend 450 million baht on a new Phuket Provincial Hall took a leap forward this week with the announcement of official approval to clear the 14-rai site on the corner opposite the current building.
Construction of the new center of administration for the island is hoped to begin next year.
Phuket Gazette, Plans unveiled for new, B450mn Phuket Provincial Hall, October 20 2012.
Compared with the historical building which has just two floors, the planned seven stories on a comparable base area seem a bit oversized, but on the other hand I was quite surprised when I walked along the current province hall and wondered how much small it is compared with other province halls, thus it must be very tight on office space inside. The new building is scheduled to take three years to build, thus it will be opened someday in 2016. The old building will then become an ideal location for a historic museum - like the historic province hall of Ratchaburi which now houses a branch museum of the National Museum.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back to shorter headmen terms?

In 1999, the 10th amendment of the Local Administration Act of 1914 changed the terms of village and subdistrict headmen drastically. Until then, once a headman was elected he stayed in office until he (or she) reached the retirement age of 60, died or resigned, or did perform so badly in his job that the province governor removed him from his post. However starting in 1999, the headmen had to stand for re-election every five year, including those who were elected for a lifetime term before.

Amendment 11 in 2008 did revert this change and made the headmen again elected for a lifetime term. Interestingly, both these drastic changes were done by Democrat-led governments.

Now it seems Amendment 13 (Amendment 12 from 2009 kept headmen in office within town and city municipalities) is in the parliamentary process, and with that amendment the reversion will be reverted, thus five year terms will be re-introduced, and obviously creating fury among the headmen.
Some 400 kamnan and village headmen staged a brief rally at Parliament yesterday while lodging a petition calling for the legislature to drop a draft bill on local administration.
Coalition and opposition MPs agreed to initiate the bill after a public hearing, which showed that people wanted to elect their local chiefs, he said.
The draft provisions include a clause for local residents to elect their kamnan to serve a five-year term, he said, but there was no cap on terms served if re-elected.
Village headmen would also be elected officials, he added.
Under the draft, kamnan and village headmen would not be subject to mandatory retirement at the age of 60. In a transitional clause, incumbent kamnan and village headmen would be allowed to remain in office until retirement at 60 [Bolding added]. The draft would apply to their successors, who would have to be elected.
The Nation, Kamnan protest over Local Administration Bill, October 10 2012
While it is a return to the old system, the transitory clause makes this draft a sham - since the previous amendment almost all five year terms had expired and an election for a lifetime term was held already, thus it is certainly not what the people in the public hearing requested.

In my opinion, a lifetime term is an anachronism, which was justified in the past when it was difficult to organize local elections, but nowadays with easy travel and communication no reason remains why to stick to undemocratic lifetime terms. Especially since electoral fraud is still common in Thailand, a five year term give the local people the chance to correct their wrong decision influenced by money when the headman did not perform in office to their satisfaction. Right now, a headman has to buy his election into office just once, and then such needs to make sure any misdeeds in office aren't bad enough to get the governor's attention.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New board meeting transcripts

Another batch of board meeting transcript has been uploaded to the website of the Legal Affairs Bureau at the Office of the Permanent Secretary of Interior. The details on each meeting concerning any municipal changes will be uploaded to the dedicated blog in the next days, depending on how much time I find to work through those lists. Thus below is just a concise summary of all those meeting which contain anything interesting.

The website with the transcripts (Board 1 and Board 2) have changed a bit with this update as well, as now not only the transcript but also the agenda (for forthcoming meetings) and additional documents are available for download - at least prepared as columns in the table, so far there are no additional documents yet.
  • Meeting 55 on 2012-08-01: four TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities [Transcript]
  • Meeting 56 on 2012-08-07: five TAO renamed and upgraded to subdistrict municipalites [Transcript]
  • Meeting 57 on 2012-08-08: five TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities [Transcript]
  • Meeting 58 on 212-08-21: six TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities [Transcript]
  • Meeting 55 (Board 1) on 2012-08-27: one TAO and municipality to adjust their boundary, and one TAO upgraded to a town [Transcript]
  • Meeting 63 on 2012-09-18: two TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipality, including one being renamed. [Transcript, Blog]
Additionally, the agenda of two forthcoming meetings contain relevant items as well.
  • Meeting 65 on 2012-10-16: two municipalities to modify their boundaries [Agenda]
  • Meeting 66 on 2012-10-17: one TAO to be upgraded to subdistrict municipality [Agenda]

Friday, October 12, 2012

More Streetview coverage in Thailand

Yesterday, Google added lot of areas all over the world with more Streetview imagery, including Thailand. Whereas in the original launch in March this year only Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket province got good coverage, now some more provinces got covered.
  • Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon already had some imagery, especially the parts close to Bangkok, but now these provinces are covered almost completely.
  • Nakhon Nayok is also covered well, just the road through Khao Yai is missing
  • The more remote parts of Chiang Mai got added, as well as a good deal of Chiang Rai province
  • The road from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai is also covered now, like the road from Bangkok to Phuket in the first batch
  • Also, the road to Si Sawat in Kanchanaburi can now be driven online
  • Small parts of Suphanburi and Ayutthaya province are added as well as the northern tip of Chonburi province.
Richard Barrow has posted a comparison of the coverage around Bangkok on his blog. According to Google, right now the Streetview cars take imagery in Chonburi around Pattaya as well as in Suphanburi. I hope the South as well as the Isan will see those cars soon as well.

Thaiyawat TAO
While browsing through this imagery is fun by itself, it is also a nice tool for my data collection on the local administrations. I still haven't found any comprehensive map with the locations of the local administration offices, and just looking from above often doesn't give any clear indication which building is the correct office.

With the first Streetview data I was able to complete my map with the local administrations in Phuket, so with a bit of luck I may be able to do the same with the provinces around Bangkok now. For example, when I wrote about the incident in Thaiyawat TAO two weeks ago, I tried to find the location of the office which seemed to be close to temple Wat Thaiyawat. But only with Streetview I was now able to identify the actual building - not a representative large new building easily spotted in satellite imagery, like the one in many local administrations.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Muban in Lampang

Yesterday the creation of two new administrative villages (Muban, หมู่บ้าน) in Lampang province was announced in the Royal Gazette. The announcement was signed on June 19 by province governor Thawatchai Thoetphaothai (ธวัชชัย เทอดเผ่าไทย), and came into effect the same day. The creation was approved by the Ministry of Interior on June 12 in the ministerial order มท ๐๓๑๐.๑/๓๑๑๒ - these ministerial orders however seem to be not available online anywhere.
  • Ban Mo Luang (บ้านเมาะหลวง), Mu 8 of Mae Mo subdistrict, Mae Mo district was split to form the new Mu 12 named Ban Wiang Hong Lan Na (บ้านเวียงหงส์ล้านนา).
  • Ban Huai Rak Mai (บ้านห้วยรากไม้), Mu 5 of Sop Pat subdistrict, Mae Mo district was split to form the new Mu 8 named Ban Mai Chalong Rat (บ้านใหม่ฉลองราช).
The announcement also includes the boundary description of both the new villages as well as those villages which had their boundary changed, but sadly I have not enough time to translate all the coordinates to a map this time.

And since I mentioned the ministerial order, I have now added that piece of data into my XML as well, thus the XML entry for these two new Muban now contains the line
<ministerialorder ministry="MOI" title="มท ๐๓๑๐.๑/๓๑๑๒" date="2012-06-12"/>

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Province governor reshuffle 2012 - Part 2

In the cabinet meeting Tuesday last week, the province governor reshuffle list was approved, filling the vacancies created by retired and promoted governors. A total of 24 officials are t change post with immediate effect. The province governor posts which become vacant due to these transfers will be filled in another reshuffle by promotion of vice governors. The new governors took office on October 8, as found in the governor list of Chanthaburi, also that day the new Phuket governor arrived on the island.

The full list as found in the cabinet meeting transcript, with the governor romanizations done by me, hopefully without any big mistake.
  1. Pracha Terat (นายประชา เตรัตน์), deputy secretary in the office of the permanent secretary to become inspector general in the office of the permanent secretary.
  2. Charin Chakkaphak (นายจรินทร์ จักกะพาก), governor of Sakon Nakhon to become deputy secretary in the office of the permanent secretary.
  3. Bunsong Techamanisat (นายบุญส่ง เตชะมณีสถิตย์), deputy director in DOLA to become governor of Sakon Nakhon.
  4. Somsak Suwansucharit (นายสมศักดิ์ สุวรรณสุจริต), governor of Kalasin to become governor of Khon Kaen
  5. Seni Chitkasem (นายเสนีย์ จิตตเกษม), governor of Rayong to become governor of Udon Thani
  6. Wichit Chatphaisit (นายวิชิต ชาตไพสิฐ), governor of Chanthaburi to become governor of Rayong
  7. Surachai Khan-asa (นายสุรชัย ขันอาสา), governor of Lamphun to become governor of Chanthaburi
  8. Phonsak Choennai (นายพรศักดิ์ เจียรณัย), governor of Bueng Kan to become governor of Chaiyaphum
  9. Phirasak Hinmueangkao (นายพีระศักดิ์ หินเมืองเก่า), governor of Ranong to become governor of Chumphon
  10. Thanin Suphasaen (นายธานินทร์ สุภาแสน), governor of Chiang Rai to become governor of Chiang Mai
  11. Phongsak Wangsamao (นายพงษ์ศักดิ์ วังเสมอ), governor of Nan to become governor of Chiang Rai
  12. Wanchat Wongchaichana (นายวันชาติ วงษ์ชัยชนะ), governor of Roi Et to become governor of Nakhon Pathom
  13. Somsak Khamthawiphrom (นายสมศักดิ์ ขำทวีพรหม), inspector-general in the office of the permanent secretary to become governor of Roi Et
  14. Winay Buapradit (นายวินัย บัวประดิษฐ์), governor of Phetchaburi to become governor of Nakhon Ratchasima
  15. Pricha Roengchan (นายปรีชา เรืองจันทร์), governor of Nakhon Sawan to become governor of Phitsanulok
  16. Chaiyarot Midaeng (นายชัยโรจน์ มีแดง), governor of Phitsanulok to become governor of Nakhon Sawan
  17. Siriphong Thantrakun (นายศิริพงศ์ ห่านตระกูล), inspector-general in the office of the permanent secretary to become governor of Pathum Thani
  18. Pramut Lamun (นายประมุข ลมุล), inspector-general in the office of the permanent secretary to become governor of Pattani
  19. Chakrin Plianwong (นายจักริน เปลี่ยนวงษ์), governor of Sukhothai to become governor of Phichit
  20. Maitri Inthusut (นายไมตรี อินทุสุต), governor of Phayao to become governor of Phuket
  21. Phichet Phaibunsiri (นายพิเชษฐ ไพบูลย์ศิริ), governor of Singburi to become governor of Lopburi
  22. Khanit Iamrahong (นายคณิต เอี่ยมระหงษ์), governor of Buriram to become governor of Samut Prakan
  23. Wanchai Sutthiwonchai (นายวันชัย สุทธิวรชัย), inspector-general in the office of the permanent secretary to become governor of Ubon Ratchathani
  24. Kamthon Thawonsathit (นายกำธร ถาวรสถิต์), governor of Amnat Charoen to become inspector-general in the office of the permanent secretary.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Province governor reshuffle 2012 delayed

On October 1st, a total of 19 province governors are set to retire, not sure if this number already includes the four province governor posts which become vacant due to the already approved promotions of governors. However, to be effective on October 1st, the reshuffle list would have to be considered and approved in the cabinet meeting on Tuesday - but it wasn't placed on the agenda because the Interior Minister did not attend the meeting. In fact, he was even slated to chair the meeting since the Prime Minister was at the United Nations and thus not available.
However, the Mr Yongyuth skipped the meeting and assigned Deputy PM Chalerm Yoobamrung to chair the Cabinet session instead.
The meeting lasted only 45 minutes and did not consider the annual reshuffle of provincial governors as Mr Yongyuth had planned.
Phuket Gazette, Phuket Vice Governor to take the big chair on October 1, 2012-09-27
One could speculate that maybe the reshuffle list wasn't yet approved by Thaksin, but it seems the more obvious reason came public today. Interior Minister Yongyuth resigned as he was recently found guilty in a corruption case dating ten years back, but which was amnestied in 2007 already.
Mr Yongyuth sent a signal that he might resign when he did not attend the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. His move came after the opposition threatened to censure him.
Bangkok Post, Yongyuth resigns from cabinet, 2012-09-28
Thus until a new Interior Minister is in office, there are only unofficial reshuffle lists circulating, and the 19 provinces will be lead by one of their deputy province governors as acting governor.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bad TAO management style

Bangkok Post reported today about an incident in the TAO administration of Thaiyawat (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลไทยาวาส), Nakhon Chai Si district, Nakhon Pathom province, where the TAO mayor Somdet Suksomkit (สมเดช สุขสมกิจ) allegedly slapped his subordinate Rawipha Phuengporn (รวิภา เปิดเผยว่า), head of the finance department, into her face after she reported the bad news that his pet project was rejected. Since the whole incident was captured on video he will have a difficult stand to defend himself in the investigation - and as the video was uploaded to YouTube now everyone can judge for themselves.
It is quite likely that there will be early elections in Thaiyawat, as if found guilty he will get removed from his post and cannot fulfill his term which would have ended in September next year.
Deputy chief of Nakhon Chaisi district Yongyuth Suanthong said he had been assigned to investigate the incident. If found guilty the TAO chief could be permanently relieved from duty.
Bangkok Post, TAO chief accused of slapping subordinate, 2012-09-26
It is a funny coincidence that I am currently reading the book "Women and politics in Thailand", in which several chapters stress the different job attitude of female leaders compared to male. I cannot imagine any female TAO mayor to show such an unacceptable behavior to her subordinates...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Graphical license plate for Narathiwat

Yesterday the car license plate graphic for the province Narathiwat was announced in the Royal Gazette. As Narathiwat is located at the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, the symbolism of the sea and the typical Malay style boat in the graphic is obvious. However, I have no idea what is the symbolism of the branch with the three-colored leaves to the right - they look like Lotus leaves, definitely neither the leaves of the provincial tree Neobalanocarpus heimii nor the provincial flower Odontadenia macrantha.

What is interesting is that unlike the other graphical license plates announced recently, in this case it is not a new version of an already existing graphic - so far Narathiwat did not have any graphical license plaes. Or to be more exact, there was none announced in the Royal Gazette so far, not sure if the car registration office in Narathiwat used one before which was not officially announced. There are only very few provinces which have no such graphic announced yet - Bueng Kan as the most recently created province, Amnat Charoen, Mae Hong Son, Nong Bua Lamphu, Ranong, Samut Songkhram, Trat and Yala. And there is also the special case of Betong district in Narathiwat, which has a separate car registration, and thus might have a graphical license plate someday. Or it may now use the one from Narathiwat province.