Friday, June 29, 2012

Sakon Nakhon license plate change reverted

2011 license plate
2006 license plate
November last year, a new license plate graphic for Sakon Nakhon was announced, changing the design completely [Gazette] -instead of the city gate (ประตูสัญลักษณ์เมืองสกลนคร) it now shows Phra That Choeng Chum (พระธาตุเชิงชุม), the major Buddhist site of the province, and a Bee Palace (แห่ปราสาทผึ้ง), made from bee wax in the most important a local festival.

Already in April . but I just notice it now - a new announcement was published which nullifies the new license plate announcement [Gazette]. The main sentence within the announcement is the following:
รูปแบบใหม่ของจังหวัดสกลนคร โดยมีลายกราฟฟิกพื้นหน้าแผ่นป้ายเป็นรูปพระธาตุเชิงชุม อันเป็นสิ่งศักดิ์สิทธิ์เคารพบูชาของชาวสกลนคร ซึ่งพิจารณาแล้วเห็นว่าไม่เหมาะสม
New look of Sakon Nakhon which has a graphic on the license plate with a picture of Phra That Choeng Chum, a sacred item of worship for the people of Sakon Nakhon. This is considered inappropriate and not suitable.
Besides this announcement, there have two further announcements on new license plare graphics, but sadly in both cases the PDF from the Royal Gazette website lacks the appendix with the actual graphic, thus I only mention them shortly here and don't give them a full posting as I would do normally. I just hope these were exceptions, and future announcements will include the graphic again, as it seems these announcements is the only source of where one can find good depictions of the license plates on the web.
  • Lamphun province, announced June 28. [Gazette]
  • Krabi province, announced April 4, [Gazette]

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book excerpt "Origins of Military Rule"

I am currently reading "Thailand: Origins of Military Rule", an economic history of Thailand written from a strong socialist viewpoint. Though I don't subscribe to that ideology, it is an interesting read, and it has one small paragraph fitting into the topic of this blog, which deals with the thesaphiban reforms 1892-1915.
The organization of the new Interior Ministry consisted in theory of several monthons, each headed by a commissioner; several provinces or chamgwads within each monthon and headed by governors; districts within each province; and so forth down to the smallest administrative areas. The entire system took a number of decades to emerge. The most important aspect to note is that it involved the deliberate reduction of the powers of the pre-capitalist governors in favor of the regional commissioners above and the district officers below. Thus the provincial governors, who formerly were chao muang (lord of the place) were reduced to pu warajakarn changwad (man in charge of the province for the king). With the reorganisation of government, they also ceased to be appointed by the king and became instead part of a civil service structure built on Western lines. These developments represented changes in the power structure towards a more centralized control.
Elliott, David. Thailand : origins of military rule. London: Zed Press, 1978. Chapter 2 "Early underdevelopment", page 77.
And the reference within this section made me notice yet another old book, much more on-topic with this blog. And thanks to BetterWorldBooks now a former library book of William J. Siffin "The Thai Bureaucracy" is on the way to me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

150th birthday of Prince Damrong

Statue in front of the MOI
Today marks the 150th birthday of Prince Damrong, the first Minister of Interior of Thailand and thus the father of the current administrative system of provinces, districts, subdistrict and villages - only the circles (monthon) have since been abolished. Additional to his contributions to the public administration of Thailand, he was also a renowned historian, author of several books and regular contributor to the Journal of the Siam Society. It is not surprising that he was the first Thai to be have his anniversary associated with the UNESCO in 1962 at his 100th birthday.

In celebration of the 150th birthday, here are some interesting English-language articles or websites about Prince Damrong.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ko Tao district developments

When the cabinet meeting was held in Phuket, the province administration of Surat Thani was proposing the creation of a new minor district (King Amphoe) for the island of Ko Tao due to its remoteness from Ko Pha Ngan. However I haven't seen anything in the transcript of the cabinet meeting, nor any other news since then,

However, in one of the board meeting transcripts of the board to consider draft laws this proposal resurfaced. On April 23, board one had this issue on their agenda as item 3.2. A big part of the transcripts are the guidelines on creating a district or minor district, and why Ko Tao does not qualify under these except as being a special case for its importance as a tourism area, but some parts are worth to quote in detail.
ข้อพิจารณาแนวทางที่ ๑ มีเหตุผลและความจำเป็น ประกอบกับมีเหตุผลความจำเป็นพิเศษเพื่อพัฒนาเกาะเต่าให้เป็นพื้นที่ส่งเสริมการท่องเที่ยวที่มีความสมดุลและน่าอยู่อย่างยั่งยืนและเพื่อเฉลิมพระเกียรติสมเด็จพระบรมราชินีนาถ เนื่องในโอกาสเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษา ครบรอบ ๘๐ พรรษา ๑๒ สิงหาคม ๒๕๕๕ จึงเห็นควรให้กรมการปกครองเสนอคณะรัฐมนตรีพิจารณาจัดตั้ง อำเภอเกาะเต่าเป็นกรณีพิเศษ ตามมติคณะรัฐมนตรี ๒ พฤศจิกายน ๒๕๔๗ Item to consider is that there is reason and necessity in accordance with the special need for tourism development on Ko Tao, and to honor Her Majesty the Queen on her 80th birthday on August 12, the Department of Provincial Administration offers to submit the request to create Ko Tao district as a special case according to the guidelines from cabinet meeting on May 2 2004.
But after some more discussion of the guidelines for new administrative subdivisions in contrast to local administration changes, the resolution of the board seems to be
ดังนั้น การยกฐานะองค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลเกาะเต่า เป็นเทศบาล จึงเป็นรูปแบบการบริหารงานที่เหมาะสมและสอดคล้องกับสภาพเศรษฐกิจ สังคม และด้านการอนุรักษ์ทรัพยากรธรรมชาติและสิ่งแวดล้อมของเกาะเต่าในปัจจุบัน Thus lifting the status of the TAO Ko Tao to a municipality would be the appropriate one in line with the economic, social and environmental issues of Ko Tao.
The island of Ko Tao currently is a single subdistrict (Tambon) within Ko Pha-ngan district, and covers just three administrative villages, and as of December 31 a registered population of just 1,706 citizen. It would be thus even smaller than the otherwise comparable case of Ko Kut district. That was however created in 1990 already, before the focus moved to local administration. As local administrative unit to be upgraded now is the TAO Ko Tao (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลเกาะเต่า), and there are smaller municipalities than what Ko Tao would become - Nong Khayang in Uthai Thani as the smallest has just 677 citizen...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lot of new municipalities this year

This year a lot of TAO councils will end their four year term and thus there need to be election all parts of the country - in August this year 1,669 TAO out of the 5693 TAO it still had at January 1 this year, thus 30% of them. Thus after one quiet year, this year it will have a lot of TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities, especially as those TAO which end their term this year are those created in 1996, the first bunch of Tambon Councils converted to Tambon Administrative Organizations. As that first bunch covered the economically strongest Tambon, there will be a lot to qualify for a upgrade now. Luckily the board meeting transcripts are back, so I can get the news on the changes quite on time.

So far I was only checking the transcripts of board two, as that is the board which normally has the issues on the local administrative units on their agenda - and the transcript overview page also contains the agenda, so I don't have to look into the transcripts itself. But since today new transcripts of board one have been uploaded, I was looking into the latest ones and quickly discovered that now both boards have these upgrades on their agenda - there are simply to many to consider for one board. Looks like the municipal upgrades will now again take quite a part of my time, posting the summaries on the Thai municipal changes blog as well as keep my XML files and the spread sheet up to date.

And a strange this to note - when I mentioned the newly available transcripts I mentioned that for me the Word documents were easier to handle than the PDF files, where some encoding issues made much more difficult to do copy-and-paste. And now both for board one and board two all new transcripts were added as Word documents again. I wonder if I have a reader within that government office, or it was just a strange coincidence.

Monday, June 4, 2012

PAO term ends

In last week's posting on the recent Provincial Administrative Organization elections, I mentioned that I lost the overview on which provinces will have their election at which date this year, and for which provinces the PAO chairman election is at a different date than the council election already. But while I was trying to compile all the data from those elections which just happened and place them into my XML files, I found a very interesting document on the website of the Election Commission in Chiang Rai.

Titled "Information on local administrations throughout the country which have end of term in 2012" (ข้อมูลองค์กรปกครองส่วนท้องถิ่นทั่วประเทศที่ครบวาระ ปี พ.ศ.2555), these two PDF contain a list of all the local administrations which have either (or both) their council or their mayor end the four year term and thus need to have elections within 45 days after the end of term. Sadly, it is a scanned document, thus one has to copy all data manually - the original Excel file would be so much more useful, as there are 3235 local elections this year. The largest number will be 1669 TAO which end their term in August, several of those will get upgraded to municipalities, but most will have elections in September then.

But since I am focusing on the PAO now, I now have a complete list of which province have their terms end this year. All the data I have collected into one spreadsheet - the dates of term end and the 45 day deadline in which the election has to take place, and also the dates elections took place as far as I know yet. I will of course update the document whenever I get new data. Several interesting things show up with the term end dates. In 2004 and 2008, there were just two election dates for the councils (and one separate for Buriram), as the the elections were synchronized in 2004 with the third amendment of the PAO act [Gazette]. Thus I would have expected that there will be just three dates for the end of term of the PAO councils - but while most have May 19th, there are also some with May 25th and May 26th, and several more dates from May, June and July. Either I remember wrong and there were more than the three dates in 2004 already, or there were some provinces where the term did not start with the election date as it would normally. It gets even more complicate for the chairmen - even though in most provinces these were still held at the same time as the council elections in 2008, there are several where the term of the chairman now ends some weeks or months after the council, Nong Bua Lamphu, Sakon Nakhon, Lamphun and Phitsanulok. I suspect that in these provinces the chairman elections had to be repeated after the original winner received a yellow or red card.

I have also added a column to show the number of days between the actual election date and the term end. If everything goes according to the standard procedures, this must be a number between 1 and 45. Ignoring the negative numbers for some of the chairman elections - these are due to resignations shortly before their term end like those in Phuket and Buriram - there is already a 66 day difference in Surat Thani, the election is scheduled for June 24th, but the deadline was June 3rd. Also strange is Tak, where the election took place one day before the end of term.

The reason for the delayed election are the constituency boundaries, which were not updated by the provincial Election Commission in time. On the website of the Phra PAO I found a note that a total of 27 provinces got their election delayed, though no list of provinces was mentioned in that. But obviously Phrae is one of those 27, as the election should have been on last Sunday as latest possible date, but on May 31st there were still three possible suggestions for the new constituency boundaries. I really wonder why there has been such a delay, as the Election Commission knew before the date by which the constituencies must be defined to ensure an election within the 45 day range, it is the negligence of this office which leave the provinces without a legitimate council longer than necessary.

In summary, not just the chairmen election deviate more and more from the original synchronized dates, the council elections also spread over the whole year already.