Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How many tambon are there in Thailand?

I always thought that the question on the number of Tambon (subdistrict) is a trivial one, as several government publication list the number of subdivisions, and they all consistently give a number of 7255 (or 7424 if including the subdistricts of Bangkok, which however actually are a different type of administrative unit) - for example the 2012 list from DOPA, or the 2013 list I didn't noticed yet. I never questioned that number, as I thought the department within the Ministry of Interior would know their numbers well.

But now I am in email contact with someone who has compiled his own lists of municipalities and subdistricts, and then cross-checked then with my spreadsheet. Quite helpful, it showed several cases where I had small mistakes within my lists, as well as clearing up some in his lists. He had a few more subdistricts in his list than me, and I also had a subdistrict named Som Kai (ตำบลสมก๋าย) in Chiang Mai listed as an active subdistrict, even though it was one which was not created, but got a the geocode 50061400 assigned already. But after removing that one, I noticed I still have one subdistrict too much - the corresponding sheet had 7425 subdistricts, thus 7256 Tambon.

Checking with the population numbers from DOPA, the additional Tambon stayed, apparently there are 7256 populated Tambon. Next step then was to check with a Excel sheet showing the subdivision numbers for each province, which also had 7255 Tambon altogether - and with that one I could nail it down to be Nakhon Si Thammarat province to have the additional subdistrict. According to that spreadsheet (and several other sources), the province has 169 Tambon - actually a lot of source show a number of 165, even the website of the province administration itself, which is even more wrong. But I have 170 Tambon, and with a 2003 book listing all the Muban I was able to find the culprit - Pak Phanang district is listed there without the subdistrict Pak Phanang (ตำบลปากพนัง). The only thing special about that subdistrict is the fact that it is completely covered by the town Pak Phanang (เทศบาลเมืองปากพนัง), and thus has no subdivision in to Muban anymore, nor any village or subdistrict headmen. But that is not unique to this Tambon, there are several of this kind in larger towns or cities. In fact, the subdistrict was identical with the area of the town until the town was enlarged in 1993 [Gazette].

Center of Pak Phanang district in 2003
With two offices within DOPA contradicting already, I wasn't able to find any more solid proof in either direction. amphoe.com for example includes a map showing the Tambon of Pak Phanang with only 17 Tambon, even the Royal Gazette is no help - obviously there is no announcement abolishing this subdistrict, but an announcement from 2003 defining the boundaries of the subdistricts again only lists 17 subdistrict. Another announcement from the same year however on land expropriation includes a map which shows this subdistrict.

If anyone can help to clear up this confusion I would be happy, so far I can only find that something is very odd around there.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Municipal changes announced

Yesterday, another two municipal changes were announced in the Royal Gazette.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Municipal upgrades announced in the Royal Gazette

Yesterday, two municipal status changes were announced in the Royal Gazette.
  • Wiang Nuea (เทศบาลตำบลเวียงเหนือ), Wiang Chai district, Chiang Rai province was upgraded from a TAO to a subdistrict municipality effective May 21, the date the announcement was signed by Pracha Prasobdee (ประชา ประสพดี), Deputy Minister of the Interior. The change was approved in the board meeting on May 15, making it the first TAO upgrade of this year which made it to the Royal Gazette - though it is not the first TAO upgrade which became effective this year. Wiang Nuea became a TAO in 1997, thus it was upgraded after 4 terms.
  • Pichai (เทศบาลเมืองพิชัย), Mueang Lampang district, Lampang province was upgraded from a subdistrict municipality to a town municipality. Phichai became a sanitary district in 1992, then like all the sanitary districts was upgraded to subdistrict municipality in 1999. The upgrade to a town was effective June 13, the day the terms of the current municipal council and mayor end. It was discussed in the same board meeting as Wiang Nuea, interestingly in that meeting also a rename to Phichai Lampang (พิชัยลำปาง) was discussed, but apparently this name change wasn't done.
It is again strange to see that some municipal changes get announced in the Royal Gazette very quickly - two months after being approved is a normal delay for announcements - but many many other municipal changes never get announced in the Royal Gazette and only get effective by ministerial order.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Same-named districts

While there are only five districts which have a non-unique name in Thailand - the five Chaloem Phra Kiat districts (อำเภอเฉลิมพระเกียรติ) created in various parts of the country in 1996 - there is one apparent case of two districts with the same name in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya province. Two of the 16 districts of the province are named Bang Sai, but in fact the two districts don't have the same name. The origin of this confusion is the romanization system.
  • Bang Sai (บางไทร), the district with geocode 1404, is pronounced with a short ai (in English the same as in the word I) at end. The name means "Banyan tree village".
  • Bang Sai (บางซ้าย), the district with geocode 1413, is pronounced with a long ai sound at end. The name means "left village" - don't know what left side is meant by the name.
The reason why both districts share the same English name despite having a different Thai pronounciation is simply due to the over-simplification done by the RTGS transcription scheme. This system, the official standard of transcribing Thai to English, has left out not just the tone heights but also the distinction between the short and long vowels. While there is another pair of districts which share the same English name despite having different Thai names - Wiang Sa in Surat Thani (เวียงสระ) and in Nan (เวียงสา), again with different vowel lengths at end - what makes the two Bang Sai so confusing is the fact that they are located within the same province quite close to each other. For example, in Wikipedia the only way to get a unique name for the two district was to add the geocode to the name, so the articles are located at Bang Sai District (1404) and Bang Sai District (1413).

Going down one administrative level, there strangely is just one case where two subdistricts within one district share the same romanization - in Fang district there are two subdistricts named Mae Kha, one with a short a and one with a long one. For villages however, it is quite common to have more than one village with the same Thai name within one subdistrict, which is no big problem since the villages are more often identified by their number than by their name.

For municipalities, it gets much more confusing, as there are cases of two municipalities with the same Thai name in one district, which only differ by the municipal level, so only when using name and administrative status together the name becomes unique. I will write a separate blog post on those cases later.