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...