Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bangkok governor candidates

Yesterday the official candidate registration of the gubernatorial elections in Bangkok has started, and already on the first day 18 candidates have registered. Since 16 have registered directly at the start of the registration period, the numbers on the ballots for them were drawn in a lottery, whereas the remaining two got the number in order of their registration. The registration period end on Friday, so a few more candidates may get added to the list.

Only two of the 18 candidates run under a party label, and its probably one of these two who will win the election - incumbent M.L. Sukhumbhand Paribatra (ม.ร.ว.สุขุมพันธ์ บริพัตร) running for the Democrat Party with the number 16, and Pongsapat Pongcharoen (พล.ต.อ.พงศพัศ พงษ์เจริญ) for Phue Thai with number 9. From the polls posted by BKK Mango it looks like an open race between them. For those able to read Thai, Richard Barrow has also collected the social web pages for the major candidates.

Whereas in most local elections there are usually only two or three candidates, and sometimes even just a single candidate without any competitor, the number of candidates for the Bangkok governor is always much higher - both due to the larger electorate and thus also the larger number of eligibly candidates, but also due to the much larger media coverage even for those candidates who never have a chance to win. As far as I was able to find, in the recent BKK gubernatorial elections there were always more than 15 candidates.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

License plate graphic for Kanchanaburi

Yet another updated graphical car license plate, this time for the province of Kanchanaburi announced in the Royal Gazette last Friday.
The symbolism of the graphic is clear - Kanchanaburi is a popular province for tourists and all of the items found in the graphic are well-known attractions in the province.Most prominently is the railway bridge of the River Kwae (The Bridge on the River Kwai) to the left. Below the bridge is one of the river restaurants, which are found a lot in Kanchanaburi town. To the right are the Three Pagodas found at the boundary to Myanmar at the Three Pagodas Pass. The waterfall below is the Sai Yok waterfall. The setting sun in the middle refers to the location of the province in the west of Thailand - the Thai word for "west" translates as "where the sun sets".
The design announced in 2006 [Gazette] also shows the bridge and the pagodas, and I assume the somewhat strange looking water at the left border is again the Sai Yok waterfall.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Local government elections this year

Finally I have found the page within the Election Commission website where they place the links to the most important reference lists. There is has the full results for the last three parliament elections, the latest senate election, and also the lists of the local government term ends starting in 2009. These lists keep me busy for some time already, extracting the election dates from there and adding them into the XML files.

Thus I now also have the list of all the term ends in this year, the actual election date for each of the local government unit will be chosen by the Election Commission when it reaches its term end. But since each term is exactly four years, this table now enables me the get the election dates in 2009. However, one big drawback is that the list is a PDF file, whereas for 2012 and 2009 there were Excel sheets. I was able to convert the PDF back to a Excel, but all of the vocals and other letters below or above the consonants were lost in the process, making it somewhat more difficult to work through the list.

Most of the 115 pages of the PDF are this list, but there are a few statistics at the beginning of the document as well worth mentioning here. This year, terms will end for the mayor and/or the council in 3596 local governments.
  • 5 Provincial Administrative Organizations (only mayors)
  • 341 municipalities
  • 3249 TAO
And while the municipal elections are spread all over the year, September will see 2941 TAO ending their terms. Thus there will be a lot of local elections in October, but probably also again quite some number of TAO upgraded to municipalities which is normally done with the term ends. Also interesting - in 105 TAO and 21 municipalities the mayor and the council have different term ends, mostly caused by mayors who did not complete their term.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New car license plate graphic for Khon Kaen

I still haven't yet written the article on the remaining three new license plate graphics published on Christmas, now another graphic was announced, this time for Khon Kaen. It is in fact already the third design for Khon Kaen, changed every four years.

The new design [Gazette] shows at top two branches of the Yellow Shower Tree (ราชพฤกษ์, Ratchaphruek), the symbol tree of the province. The stupa to the left is Phra That Kham Kaen, which is also the main item on the seal of the province. I am not sure about the symbolism of the tree trunk in middle, I only know that the provincial seal features two trees to either side of the stupa - but there is a similar looking trunk in front of the railway station of Khon Kaen. At both sides there is a yellow cartoon dinosaur, one holding a khene and the other doing a Thai greeting.
The 2010 design [Gazette] is similar, but instead of the two small cartoon dinosaurs a real dinosaur is depicted, probably the Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae which was discovered in Phu Wiang district.
Finally, the 2004 design [Gazette] lacks the stupa and places the dinosaur much more into the background. For me, it is the visually least appealing design, but that's of course just my subjective impression.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bangkok governor resigns

At first look, it sounds like a nonsensical act - Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra has resigned from his post today, to take effect tomorrow just one day before his term would have ended nominally on Thursday. However, this one day will have a bigger consequence for the forthcoming election. In case a governor fulfills his term, the next election has to take place within 45 days after the end of term. However, in case of an early resignation, the election has to take place within 60 days after the resignation - which makes sense to give the Election Commission enough time to prepare the elections to do those preparative steps which could be done in the last days of the nominal term otherwise. But since it is just one day this time, those preparations should be done already and the Election Commission could still choose the original scheduled election day. However it seems
If incumbent Governor Sukkhumbhand Paribatra resigns before completing his term on Friday, the gubernatorial race will take place on March 3 - but if he completes his term, the election will be held on February 17.
The Nation, Ten challenges for next city governor, 2012-01-07
According to Bangkok Post, adding two or three weeks to the election campaign is labeled to increase fairness in the election.
MR Sukhumbhand wanted his resignation to take effect before Jan 10 to allow fair compeition (sic!) in the Bangkok governor election, he said.
Bangkok Post, Sukhumbhand to resign Tuesday, 2012-01-07
There is however one big cloud over the re-election bid of MR Sukhumbhand, who is now facing investigations by the DSI over the extension of the contract with the company operating the Skytrain. Its a kind of deja vu - four years ago Sukhumbhand predecessor Apirak Kosayodhin resigned just one month after being reelected, also due to corruption charges. It will certainly be an interesting campaign.

A very interesting read in preparation to the campaign is the opinion published by Bangkok Post shortly after Christmas.
Bangkok governor, what is the job - other than keeping pet dogs out of public parks and collecting garbage and dumping it in Nakhon Pathom province?
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Act, BE 2528 outlines the power and role of the Bangkok governor, but other than hiring and firing city officials, everything else is vague and overlaps with the functions of the national government.
When functions are overlapped, budgets are overlapped and very little gets done, but a lot of people get to eat the cake. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the individual governors, but it is a problem of the definition, the status of Bangkok.
Bangkok Post, Bangkok governor, it's an insane job, 2012-12-27

Monday, January 7, 2013

New sister city for Bangkok

On January 4th, Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand signed a contract with the mayor of the Cambodian capital city Phnom Penh to make the two cities sister cities.
Phnom Penh is the 24th city to team-up with Bangkok. The capital's other twin cities include Washington DC, Beijing, Moscow, St Petersburg, Budapest, Brisbane, Manila, Seoul, Jakarta, Vientiane, Tehran and Shanghai.
The Nation, Phnom Penh, Bangkok now twin cities, 2012-01-05
When I last wrote about the sister cities of Bangkok, the Wikipedia article had totally bogus entries, and there was only a outdated list on the website of the city administration listing just 14 sister cities. When rechecking now, Wikipedia had the list of 22 sister cities same as the website of Bangkok - and someone already added Phnom Penh as well. Since The Nation had a partial list in their article as quoted above, it seems the missing city is Tehran, the capital of Iran. I wasn't able to find any other reference confirming that relationship, and have become somewhat skeptical in believing that newspaper.

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Royal Gazette announcements for 2013

Today the first announcements relevant to the administrative subdivisions were published in the Royal Gazette, and since last year had a lot of newly created municipalities these announcements are definitions of the constituency boundaries within municipalities. Due to the larger number of these announcements I normally don't write about them, thus this is a nice chance to mention them.
  • Ban Thaen (เทศบาลตำบลบ้านแท่น), Ban Thaen district, Chaiyaphum [Gazette]. The term of the municipality council will end on February 21 this year, so the change of constituencies comes in time to allow the election to take place within the 45 days after the end of term.
  • Phra Sadet (เทศบาลตำบลพระเสด็จ), Lap Lae district, Uttaradit [Gazette]. The TAO Thung Yang was upgraded to a municipality effective August 24 (and renamed to Phra Sadet since part of the subdistrict Thung Yang already forms the municipality Thung Yang), so now the constituencies are defined the first municipal election can take place.
  • Huai Sai (เทศบาลตำบลห้วยทราย), San Kamphaeng district, Chiang Mai [Gazette]. The TAO Huai Sai was upgraded to a municipality effective November 1st, cutting short the council term which would have run until September this year. In this case the time without an elected administration will be shorter than for Phra Sadet.