Monday, December 21, 2015

Muban rename in Sukhothai

Another administrative village has changed its name as decided in the 3rd meeting of board to consider name changes in this year. Last week, the rename of Ban Wang Mai Charoen Suk (บ้านวังใหม่เจริญสุข), village 11 of Mueang Kao subdistrict, Mueang Sukhothai district, was announced in the Royal Gazette. The new name is Ban Saen To (บ้านแสนตอ). Translating the village names literally, this means that "New palace growing happiness" becomes "Hundred thousand stumps".

The administrative village was created in 2003 by splitting of parts of Mo 4, Ban Wang Takhro (บ้านวังตะคร้อ) [Gazette], and is located in the north of Mueang Kao subdistrict, aroung five kilometer northwest of Sukhothai historical park. Thanks to the Gazette announcement on the creation of this village with the exact boundary definition, I could find the sign at the beginning of the village in Streetview. And even the office of the village headman has a location page on Google plus already, but no sign around that house to confirm its location being correct.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Muban rename in Chiang Rai

Yesterday the rename of an administrative village in Chiang Rai was announced in the Royal Gazette. Mu 10 of Si Kham subdistrict, Mae Chan district changes its name from Ban Mae Kham Phatthana (บ้านแม่คำพัฒนา) to Ban Si Kham (บ้านศรีค้ำ). This change was approced by the board to consider name changes in their 3rd meeting this year on September 24, and the announcement was signed by the province governor of Chiang Rai on October 15. As it does not mention any specific date on which it became effective, I guess it became effective same day as it was signed.

As I cannot find any Gazette announcement on the creation of this Muban, it was probably created before 2002 - but after 1984 as it wasn't part of the subdistrict when that was created [Gazette]. By the name of the Muban I believe it was split off from Mu 3 (Ban Mae Kham Lak Chet), and since it is now renamed to the same name as the subdistrict I guess it is located in the most populated part of the subdistrict along Phahayothin highway.

Friday, November 27, 2015

What's wrong with

One of the Thai government websites which gave me lots of early information on planned administrative changes - especially the municipal upgrades - is the site of the Office of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Interior (สำนักกฎหมาย สำนักงานปลัดกระทรวงมหาดไทย), found at However, for more than a year already, I get nothing but connection timeouts when I try to open that site. Even services like "Down For Everyone Or Just Me" show it offline. Yet, strangely, Google still is able to access it, so the Google cache is an awkward backdoor to access the site. Even stranger - a month ago I noticed that with the free proxy from the site was accessible, so luckily I used the chance to download all the new board meeting transcript files then. Because - it seems the webmaster now blocked access by that proxy, it shows a 403 error.

I really wonder what is going on there. Has the Ministry of Interior placed this website behind the planned Great Firewall of Thailand already wrongly set to filter in the wrong direction? Or did just a stupid network administrator screw up the routing tables which effective blocked the site from foreign access? Needless to say that its impossible to notify anyone by email about this problem, the email address on the website is not working, and also all other standard email like webmaster don't work.

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

The error that the other server returned was:
550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable

The connectivity problem seems to be not just this one website, also many of the province websites hosted within the MOI don't work either, e.g. Ubon Ratchathani gives timeouts for me but shows online at "Down for everyone".

Would be curious how much the accessibility of has been limited, so I invite you to leave a short comment stating whether you can access the site and from where you did.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pa Sak TAO upgraded to municipality

Today, the upgrade of the subdistrict administrative organization Pa Sak (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลป่าสัก) in Lamphun province to a subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลป่าสัก) was announced in the Royal Gazette. The change became official on November 6, exactly 4 years after the last local election - even though all local elections are still halted and mayor can continue to stay even after their normal term in office ends, in this case the Ministry of Interior timed the update with the end of the electoral term, same as they did in past when it still made sense to avoid too frequent local elections.

The upgrade was discussed in the Board to consider draft laws in their meeting on September 7, thus it was rather quick to be announced in the Gazette given that there are still hundreds of upgrades still not yet published there, waiting for more than eight years already. Maybe this time it was so fast because it was the first and so far only one planned for the fiscal year 2016, and even just the third for the common year 2015.

Though there is no Wikipedia article yet about this local government unit, I have created and filled an item in Wikidata to record the information - and since it is a reference for some of the statements in that item, even this Royal Gazette announcement now has its own Wikidata item.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New district in Chumphon proposed

Thai Wikipedia Potapt notified me about a news report that in Chumphon province plans to create a new district. According to that report, the district Tha Sae (อำเภอท่าแซะ) in the north of the province is too large to be manageable by the district office. In fact, this district is the largest one of Chumphon by ara, and also with 83,293 citizen (December 2014) the second-most populous one after Mueang district - interestingly the news report wrongly claims it is the third. Also, its location at the boundary to Myanmar makes it more difficult to administrated. As the name of the new district "Thepharat" (อำเภอเทพรัตน) is proposed.

Interestingly, the territorial extent in this proposal means that not just some subdistricts get split off to form the new district, but also the subdistrict Rap Ro - number five in the map above and the largest of the subdistricts by area, population and number of administrative villages - should be split between the two new districts. The villages 10, 14, 19, 21 and 23 making up the northern part of the subdistrict would become a new subdistrict and then be part of the new district. This would not just make it the first new subdistrict since 1996 (not counting those in Bangkok), it would also mean that the local government of Rap Ro would either be the first TAO to cover area within two districts, or would have to be split as well.

However, it will still take some time until this district can be created - unlike the two proposed districts in Yala province it even hasn't been discussed in the board to consider draft laws nor by the cabinet of ministers, both steps before the law could proceed.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Pronunciation of the administrative units

The standard romanization using the RTGS standard gives a fair approximation of the correct pronunciation of the Thai names, but with some limitations - both the vocal length and the tone are ignored, and one should not read the romanized name like an English name. The Bang Sue meme only works when reading the romanized name of that Bangkok district like it were written in English. Using the transcription of the Thai names into the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) instead avoids all three problems, then Bang Sue (บางซื่อ) becomes "bāːŋ sɯ̂ː". Also those cases where there seem to be two subdivisions sharing the same name - like the two districts Bang Sai in Ayutthaya province - disappear with this transcription.
  • Bang Sai (บางไทร) is read as "bāːŋ sāj".
  • Bang Sai (บางซ้าย) is read as "bāːŋ sáːj".
In 2011 an anonymous user added the IPA transcription for several districts into the English Wikipedia, however sadly not to all. While I can do the RTGS romanization myself well already, I just know the basics of IPA, and the tone rules of written Thai are still too confusing for me, so I can neither check those IPA transcriptions nor add new ones. But I could add the IPA into my XML structure, and then run my bot to add those values to the items in WikiData. Though its just one small data field among many others, and its not available for all, at least it now makes that information from Wikipedia directly machine-readable without the need to parse English text. If anyone can provide me with more IPA transcriptions, I'd be happy to make sure these will find their way into Wikidata and Wikipedia...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blog cited in academic publications

For academic publications it is essential to have lots of references, and maybe even more to get cited by other publications - the only way to quantify the quality of a publication is how often it gets cited in other publications. When I studied (a field totally unrelated to the geography, politics and history topics I write here) I never made it to have anything published, and I have been out of the academic world since then. As blogs same as other amateur written, not peer-reviewed content is often not considered cite-worthy, I discovered that at least in four publication my content was cited. Rarely, a scholar or student contacts me directly and I am always happy to help if possible, yet out of the four citations I could find with Google I only had a short conversation with the author of the last one. As I have no access to any academic journal, only those paper which happen to be freely accessible on the Internet, so if there are any further citations I haven't noticed yet I would be curious to know.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Area transfer between Wiang Chai and Siri Wiang Chai municipality

Yesterday two announcements were published in the Royal Gazette which modified the boundaries between the subdistrict municipalities Wiang Chai (เทศบาลตำบลเวียงชัย) and Siri Wiang Chai (เทศบาลตำบลสิริเวียงชัย).
  • Modification of boundary of Wiang Chai municipality (ประกาศกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง เปลี่ยนแปลงเขตเทศบาลตำบลเวียงชัย อำเภอเวียงชัย จังหวัดเชียงราย) [pdf]
  • Modification of boundary of Siri Wiang Chai municipality (ประกาศกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง เปลี่ยนแปลงเขตเทศบาลตำบลสิริเวียงชัย อำเภอเวียงชัย จังหวัดเชียงราย) [pdf]
The sanitary district Wiang Chai was created in 1985 covering the area around the district office of Wiang Chai [Gazette]. It thus covered parts of the subdistricts Wiang Chai and Mueang Chum. The remaining parts of Wiang Chai subdistrict got its local government with the creation of the TAO Wiang Chai in 1997. 1999 the sanitary district - like all sanitary districts - became a subdistrict municipality. The TAO was upgraded to a subdistrict municipality effective September 6 2013, and had to be renamed to Siri Wiang Chai as the name Wiang Chai was already taken.

If I read the text of the announcements correctly, the administrative villages 1, 8, 9, 13 and parts of 19 get transferred from Siri Wiang Chai to Wiang Chai. Comparing the maps in the two new announcements with the one from 1985, its the southern boundary of Wiang Chai which gets changed from a straight line to a much more complicated shape by the added areas, also the northwestern boundary has been moved so it now same as the boundary between the subdistrict Wiang Chai and Wiang Nuea. There however remains one strange boundary - boundary point 6 cuts off a small area of Mueang Chum municipality from its main part, maybe to be simplified in a future boundary redefinition.

A more detailed description of this change should be found in the transcript for the meeting 33 of July 13 by the board 2 considering draft laws, but sadly the webserver seems to be misconfigured to be inaccessible outside Thailand, so I cannot read that file.
Wiang Chai municipality boundary

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

@Amphoe competition

While I was in Thailand in summer, I collected the paper version of the first two issues of the @amphoe magazine published by the Department of Provincial Administration. Issue one my wife picked at the province hall in Trang - the staff there was very reluctant to give it away, and refused to give her a copy of issue two even though there were many boxes for delivery in that office. So I got issue two from the province hall in Phatthalung instead, while I was doing a short photo walk in the government complex my wife picked the magazine, this time from a much friendlier official. While waiting for me, they discovered a photo competition, asking to send photos with the magazine, so just for fun my mother-in-law posed in front of the province hall showing the magazine and submitted the photo. Everyone already forgot about that competition, so I was quite surprised to see my mother-in-law in the latest Facebook post showing the winning photos.

Hope that short she won will be large enough I can wear it as well when visiting next time - without my interest into these topics nobody of my family would have ever noticed that magazine anyway. And I am now looking forward to see the third issue of the magazine, it is already advertised on Facebook so at least the online version should show up soon. Lets see if it gives me chance for some nitpicking again...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Province governor reshuffle 2015

As the fiscal year in Thailand ends today, this is also the standard date for the province governor reshuffle, many province governors had their last working day today and either retire or move to a new position. And of course also the now vacant positions get refilled by promotions of deputy governors. The reassignments were already confirmed by the cabinet on September 8, and though I added them into my XML files I was to busy to report them here yet. As there are quite a lot of transfers, I don't list each name individually, just listing the numbers and notable special cases.

Altogether 58 positions were changed, 54 of them effective October 1st and another four on October 2nd. The transfers split into these categories:
  • 21 province governors get transferred to another province
  • 22 deputy province governors get promoted to province governors, three of them staying in the same province
  • 10 become province governors from other positions in the Ministry of Interior
  • 3 province governors get transferred to other positions not related to province governors
  • 1 deputy governor gets transferred to another position
  • 1 gets transferred from positions not related to province governors
One of transfers effective October 2nd is quite odd - Phakaphong Tavipatana (ภัคพงษ์ ทวิพัฒน์) gets transferred as governor from Surin to Phang Nga, but he will assume office in Surin just one day before on October 1st being promoted from the deputy governor position in Sara Buri. There was a similar kind of transfer two years ago, but it remains strange.

There are some province governor positions vacant after these transfers, I haven't yet checked if a second batch of promotions was approved in the meantime as I was still busy working through the old census data - more on that soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rename of Muban in Phayao

Today the change of the name of one administrative village in Phayao was announced in the Royal Gazette. Village 6 of Sa subdistrict, Chiang Muan district was renamed from Ban Lai (บ้านหล่าย) to Ban Tha Fa Lai (บ้านท่าฟ้าหล่าย). This change was approved by the board to consider name changes in its second meeting this year on June 23, and the announcement was then signed by the province governor on July 29. As the rationale for the change the announcement states that the new name better fits the history of the village, as it was created by splitting off area from the village Ban Tha Fa Nuea (Village 1) and Ban Tha Fa Tai (Village 2).

Friday, August 28, 2015

Three local governments renamed

Yesterday three announcements were published in the Royal Gazette regarding the change of names of local governments.
All three name changes will take effect on September 4, and it seems they were done without discussion in the board to consider name changes - at least no meeting reference is mentioned in the announcements.

Even though the changes are not in effect yet, I have already updated the corresponding Wikipedia articles, and also created the Wikidata items for these three local governments with all their data.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fake new provinces going viral

On the Facebook page of the Department of Provincial Administration, earlier today a news announcement was posted intended to correct claims that five new provinces in the Northeast are about to be created. Apparently, yet another half-truth facebook posting has gone viral and shared by many without giving it any thought. I found at least one version of that post on Pantip with the list of the five province alleged to be created.
  • Bua Yai split from Nakhon Ratchasima - จ.บัวใหญ่ แยกมาจากโคราช มี 8 อำเภอ อ.บัวใหญ่, อ.คง, อ.ประทาย, อ.โนนแดง, อ.บ้านเหลือม, อ.แก้งสนามนาง, อ.สีดา และ อ.บัวลาย
  • Det Udom split from Ubon Ratchathani - จ.เดชอุดม แยกมาจากอุบลราชธานี มี 5 อำเภอ 2 กิ่งอำเภอ อ.เดชอุดม, อ.บุณฑริก, อ.นาจะหลวย, อ.น้ำยืน, อ.ทุ่งศรีอุดม,กิ่ง อ.น้ำขุ่น และกิ่ง อ.นาเยีย
  • Katharalak split from Sisaket - จ.กันทรลักษ์ แยกออกมาจากศรีสะเกษ มี 6 อำเภอ 3 กิ่งอำเภอ อ.กันทรลักษ์, อ.ขุนหาญ, อ.เบญจลักษ์, อ.ศรีรัตนะ, อ.ไพรบึง, อ.โนนคูณ, กิ่ง อ.เขาพระวิหาร, กิ่ง อ.ศรีเมืองทอง และ กิ่ง อ.ทับทิมสยาม
  • Chumphae split from Khon Kaen and Chaiyaphum - จ.ชุมแพ แยกมาจากขอนแก่น มี 6 อำเภอ อ.ชุมแพ, อ.ภูเวียง, อ.สีชมพู, อ.หนองนาคำ, อ.ภูผาม่าน และ อ.ภูเขียว ของ จ.ชัยภูมิ มาจัดตั้งเป็น จ.ชุมแพ ด้วย
  • Nangrong split from Buriram - จ.นางรอง แยกมาจากบุรีรัมย์ มี 10 อำเภอ อ.นางรอง, อ.ชำนิ, อ.หนองหงส์, อ.บ้านกรวด, อ.เฉลิมพระเกียรติ, อ.โนนสุวรรณ, อ.ปะคำ, อ.หนองกี่, อ.ละหานทราย, และ อ.โนนดินแดง
Of these, the plan to create a province Bua Yai by splitting off parts of Nakhon Ratchasima is nothing new, that province even already has a Wikipedia article and I had mentioned it here before when that plan reemerged in 2013. Also, the province Chum Phae is not new, I first read about it in about 2005, but never heard any update on that since then, so it seems to be shelved and forgotten - probably its save to remove its mention in the Wikipedia article on Khon Kaen. Interestingly, according to this list it would even be composed of districts from two provinces, so far all newly created provinces were split off from just one province.

The other alleged provinces listed I have never heard about, so these might have been from some small local advocate groups but never made it into any official channels. For example, the Kantharalak province is supposed to contain the minor districts which don't exist yet, and in fact since 2007 any newly created districts are supposed to become full districts directly and omit the minor district level.

It would be much more interesting to know the current status of the one province actually about to be created - Mae Sot to be split off from Tak - or the proposal to create Fang province from the north of Chiang Mai which was to be considered by parliament several years ago.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Census 1970

The census data for 1970 is now completely translated into my XML structure, for all of the publications like the Whole Thailand report I have transcribed table one containing the population and household numbers for each district subdivided by municipal, sanitary districts and non-municipal areas. Of course the publications contain much more data, but that's so much special interest only I have not worked on it at all. Actually, the only other data I have prepared in the XML schema so far is the age distribution, so I might add that later.

Though this XML should be the easiest way to store the data for any further processing by software, the Excel sheets I created as an intermediate step to represent exactly what is visible in the publications are probably more accessible for non-programmers. I collected them all in one archive. I also compiled the downloads from the statistics office into PDF files, however these are around 10 MB each. Due to this, as well as to avoid copyright problems, there's no download link for these, but if you need one or many you can simply ask me by email.

Working through the tables was rather straightforward, there was only one district which was missing - Na Haeo in Loei is not in the list though was created in February 1970 as a minor district, thus before the reference date of April 1st 1970. In a few cases, the type - minor district (King Amphoe, กิ่งอำเภอ) or full district (Amphoe, อำเภอ) - was wrong, but there were also a few where I had mistakes about the actual dates in my data and only spotted them when looking more closely now.

The only cases where the actual numbers are inconsistent are for two province.
  • Surin - the household numbers for private and collective households are wrong by one for sanitary and the nonmunicipal areas.
  • Thonburi - the total population according to the publication on Thonburi was 920,033, whereas the publication on the whole kingdom lists 920,058 - seven women and 18 men more. Also, the sum of the numbers for the districts also return the value of 920,033, so these two documents contradict.
I have also already finished the data for 1960, and I am currently working on 1980 - which however will take much longer than the previous two census as there are both more districts as well as the data is more detailed. I am also continuously updating my spreadsheet with the total population numbers for each district.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New ccaatt list

Last month, the Department of Provincial Administration issued a new version of the geocodes based on the TIS 1099 standard - or actually other way round, the list on which the TIS 1099 standard was based. This time they changed to publish Excel sheets instead of plain text files, making it a bit easier for normal users to use these lists, but for me to look for the changes it adds a little extra work to convert to the old format. Sadly, the meta data or version history of the Excel files don't show any internal information on the way these lists are compiled...

As there was just one administrative change for the central administrative units - the reassign of Tha Faek subdistrict in Uttaradit province - there is just one new code in the ccaatt list and the new code is no surprise.
Sadly, the planned new districts in Yala did not receive a code yet with this update, so if they become official before another update of this list I have a 50% chance of guessing the right codes to use in my XML file for Yala - in fact I have already made my guess as I prepared the two entries, so if anyone from DOPA is reading - please choose 9509 for Lam Mai and 9510 for Kota Baru.

A few more changes are in the rcode list which contains all the registration offices and thus both district and municipalities. While the districts are of course the same as in the ccaatt list, this time nine municipalities received a new four digit code.
There are still a lot of municipalities which did not receive a four digit code yet - and it is simply impossible that all can receive such a code as there are provinces which have more districts and municipalities than fit into the 99 possible codes. Thus to assign a unique code to every municipality the code scheme has to be changed.

The code 1681 was in past ccaatt lists used with the name "อ.บ้านเช่า จ.ลพบุรี" (Ban Chao district, Lopburi province), but marked as obsolete. It is both a strange code for a district, as well I am not aware of any district with that name ever planned in Lopburi. Interestingly, the district Ban Mi was named Ban Sao (บ้านเซ่า) from 1917 till 1939, so it might even be a misspelled obsolete geocode entry. But now it has been overwritten by Kok Ko.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Thai national Censuses 1960 to 1990

For quite some time I was searching for older population numbers than those of the 1990 census I could find within the reports of the 2000 census - and even those data were incomplete as for some of the provinces created in 1993 there were no data for 1990 mentioned. At least at province level, there are the data collected by Gwillim Law on his statoids website, but for 1960 and 1970 there are only rounded numbers. There are a few other online resources, like this 1970 report, and some pages on the Chulalongkorn university webserver from a study about the number of elderly people. While I was able to collect the census data at province level with those resources, there seemed to be no resources online which go down to district level, the level published in the census reports by the National Statistical Office (NSO). I have the reports for 2000 and 2010, and one from 1960, but nothing else.

Without any online resources the only way left seemed to be to located those printed publications in a library - Google books has them scanned, but does not allow to see inside them. So during my recent stay in Bangkok, I went to the National Library which has all of these books - but unfortunately they are in a major reconstruction and all of the old books are stored away and not accessible. Final attempt was to ask my sister in law who has access to a university library, but instead of getting me the books she came up with something much better.

The NSO has a online database of scanned publication, and most of the documents are exactly those census reports which I was searching for. As a slight drawback that website has the individual pages as PNG files, and not whole publications as one PDF, but that's not so difficult with some scripting and free tools. In the past week I have already filled in the 1990 data where I either had absolutely none - the districts of Nong Bua Lam Phu and Sa Kaeo - or where the data I had did not sum up to the values of the provinces. But the amount of data - not just the total population, but also those in private and collective household, the agricultural population, and that separately for municipal, sanitary district area and the other areas - makes it a quite tedious and time-consuming work, even with an Excel sheet to help spotting typing mistakes and doing the conversion to XML.

Instead of continuing with 1990, I instead started 1960, as that will be much faster to complete. Not only there were fewer districts in 1960 than 1990, also the reports give much less details - just the total and the municipal population, and the agricultural and non-agricultural households. The south is already done in the corresponding XML, and the other regions should be done within the next month. Whereas the amount of data for 1970 is similar with 1960, the reports for 1980 and 1990 will keep me busy at least a year unless I can find some help...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Three Muban renamed

In the past weeks, another three administrative villages name changes were announced in the Royal Gazette.
  • Ban km 52 (บ้าน กม.52), Rabam subdistrict, Lan Sak district, Uthai Thani province renamed to Ban Huai Kha Khaeng (บ้านห้วยขาแข้ง) [Gazette]. The announcement was signed on May 25 by the province governor, and published on July 16.
  • Ban Lada (บ้านลดา), Baraho subdistrict, Mueang Pattani district, Pattani province renamed to Ban La Do (บ้านลาดอ) [Gazette]. The announcement was signed on May 25 by the province governor, and published on July 9.
  • Ban Pri Do (บ้านปรีดอ), Baraho subdistrict, Mueang Pattani district, Pattani province renamed to Ban Bali Do (บ้านบลีดอ). Change was announced together with the previous one.
All three changes are - same as those announced last month - approved in meeting 1/2015 of the board to consider name changes.

The two name changes in Pattani are the first ones done of a list of ten Muban name changes in the three Muslim dominated provinces proposed last year as a measure to reduce alienation of the population with the state - change the official name of the village to the one the citizen actually use, instead of a Thai name to override the traditional name in Jawi. Though the above changes are more like pronunciation variants than different names...

Monday, July 6, 2015

New maps for Yala

With the two new districts in Yala forthcoming, an important task to have them on Wikipedia with a good albeit short article as soon as it is clear when they will become official are the maps. My fellow Wikipedian hdamm has created great vector maps for all provinces with the district boundaries. In order to add the two new ones I had to find the boundaries of the subdistricts, something not easy as most of the maps I knew were inaccurate or even contradicting boundary sketches, with those from being the closest to reality. However, that website seems to be down, maybe switched off finally after having no update for years. The boundaries shown by Google Maps when searching for subdistricts I earlier found to be partially wrong, so those are no real alternative.

The Thai wikipedian Potapt gave me the link to a great resource, a Royal Gazette announcement on the town planning (กฎกระทรวง ให้ใช้บังคับผังเมืองรวมจังหวัดยะลา) which includes a maps of the whole province with the boundaries of each subdistrict. The map on page 28 thus allowed me to created the map above based on the current SVG map for Yala - numbered are the districts already existing, in red is the new district Lam Mai (อำเภอลำใหม่), in green Kota Baru (อำเภอโกตาบารู). As I hesitate to change the maps on Wikipedia without knowing for sure when these districts will (were?) created, I keep the result in my Dropbox for now. Hopefully, the ccaatt list will be updated quickly, to know which numbers to use for the map to identify the new districts.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Removing officials

On June 25, the military junta announced the suspensions or transfer of 70 government officials for suspected corruption in their order 19/2015. The list contains both officials appointed by the Ministry of Interior and other ministries, as well as elected officials from the local government units, including some relatively well-known PAO chairmen. See for example the Phuket Gazette article on PAO chairman Phaibun Upatising. Out of the 70, the following are those posts which I am usually taking a closer look at.
  • 1 vice province governor (รองผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัด)
  • 7 PAO chairmen (นายกองค์การบริหารส่วนจังหวัด)
  • 14 TAO mayor (นายกองค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล), 3 deputy TAO mayor (รองนายกองค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล)
  • 17 municipality mayors (นายกเทศมนตรี), 1 member of the municipal council (สมาชิกสภาเทศบาล)
  • 1 PAO clerk (ปลัดองค์การบริหารส่วนจังหวัด), 1 TAO clerk (ปลัดองค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล), 2 municipal clerks (ปลัดเทศบาล)
While I haven't yet translated the whole lost of these 47 officials into XML, I already noticed two cases where a TAO mayor was removed who had his 4 year term already finished, and thus in normal times would require a new local election. But since all local elections are suspending according to order 85 (and order 86 for Bangkok) of 2014. I am not sure if these are included because their term ended between the compilation of the list and the announcement, or now all elected local officials stay in office indefinitely - order 1/2015 allowed for the terms being extended, but the way I understood it was that any extension of term must be approved by higher authorities first.

In fact, this is already the second order under paragraph 44 removing officials, one month ago order 15/2015 removed 45 officials, that time most of them were appointed officials.
  • 1 province governor, 5 district officers
  • 13 TAO mayors, 1 deputy TAO mayor (though one of them was mislisted, and was in fact a municipal mayor)
  • 3 municipal mayors
  • 1 municipal clerk, 1 deputy municipal clerk

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two Muban renamed

Last week, the rename of two administrative villages (Muban, ) in Chiang Rai province was announced in the Royal Gazette.
  • Ban Ruam Chai Phatthana (บ้านร่วมใจพัฒนา), Mu 14 of Doi Ngam subdistrict, Phan district renamed to Ban Saraphi (บ้านสารภี). [Gazette] The administrative village was created in 2003.
  • Ban Pa Bong (บ้านป่าบง), Mu 1 of Yang Hom subdistrict, Khun Tan district renamed to Ban Pa Bong Nam Lom (บ้านป่าบงน้ำล้อม). [Gazette]
Both announces were signed by the province governor of Chiang Rai Pongsak Wangsemo (พงษ์ศักดิ์ วังเสมอ) on May 6, and were previously approved by the board to consider name changes in their first meeting this year on March 18.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Amphoe created without being King Amphoe

The second issue for the @Amphoe magazine is already available for online reading - hope I can grab a paper copy of this and if possible also the first issue during my forthcoming visit in Thailand - and as a pleasant surprise the amount of English content has increased a lot. Same as in the first issue, the English section "Thing you may not know about Administration" on page 23 is the most interesting, this time it explains that while most Amphoe (อำเภอ, districts) are created as King Amphoe (กิ่งอำเภอ, minor districts), there are a few special cases which were directly created as Amphoe.

Though both King Amphoe and Amphoe are at the same administrative level, the creation of a minor district can be done by a ministerial act, whereas the creation of Amphoe (as well as the upgrade of King Amphoe to Amphoe) need a Royal Act. As the government decided in 2007 to stop using the minor districts to make the administration easier and upgrade all the minor districts to full districts, now all new districts will be created directly as full districts. So far, there was only one, Galyani Vadhana in Chiang Mai created 2009, and probably those two new districts in Yala.

Sadly, the article in this issue however has two problems. Most notably is the fact that the author did not use the official recommended transcriptions of the district names - for example Yasotorn instead of Yasothon - and even within the article uses both "Mueang" and "Mueng". Much less obvious is the claim that the only districts which were created without being King Amphoe are the five Chaloem Phra Kiat districts and four districts named after Royals. I had to check my XML files to confirm that there are more, though not that many. Below is the full list with all cases since the 1932 revolution.
Just hope the editor takes my nitpicking Facebook comment as constructive criticism, as I love to see the topics of this blog getting a somewhat bigger audience with this magazine. And maybe I'll make it into the errata section of the next issue...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wikidata queries

Wikidata logo
With more and more data collected at Wikidata, it becomes possible to query the data and thereby find information normally hidden in the big pile of data, or hardly machine-readable in the text of the Wikipedia articles. The query "biggest cities with a female mayor" is the standard example on what Wikidata could allow once it becomes more complete, though it still is just beginning to return useful data.

As I already added more than 7700 of the Thai administrative units to Wikidata, far more than there are articles on these entities, querying them can start to return useful information even with the still limited query functionality. The following are some easy queries which already return useful results, there could be much more interesting queries after I added more functions to my bot filling Wikidata from my XML, or when when the long-awaited property type "value with unit" becomes available, e.g. for the area.
  • Entities named after a person
    The query right now returns 16 results, e.g. the subdistrict Suranari in Nakhon Ratchasima which is named after the local heroine Thao Suranari. The query of course relies on the property "named after", which I had set manually - I probably missed several more which could be added.
  • Entities created since 2000
    As I haven't yet finished the code to fill in the creation date, the query only shows those two entities where I had added it manually so far.
  • Entities with a population of more than one million
    returns 20 provinces and Bangkok - the second largest city Nonthaburi has just 256,000, and there's also no district large enough to be returned by this query.
Once such queries includeList of cities in Thailand much easier, which right now contains lots of bogus data. Also right now the queries run on a separate server using the data from Wikidata, hopefully soon queries will be natively supported on the Wikidata server itself.
the possibility to sort the results - right now they are just sorted by the item number - it would become possible to create Wikipedia list articles like

And there's also the "female mayors" query for Thailand which only returns Phuket city - simply because almost no entity has its head of government set.

Friday, June 19, 2015

New districts in Yala already created?

Amphoe in Yala before the change
number 1 and 6 will change
Checking for any news on the two planned new districts in Yala province, it turned out that only one hit turned up since I was posting about that plan in March. So it seems that not much has happened, but actually that news report by the Public Relation Department dated April 17 says something totally different.

จังหวัดยะลา ได้จัดตั้งอำเภอใหม่ใน 2 อำเภอ คือ อำเภอโกตาบารู แยกจาก อำเภอรามัน และอำเภอลำใหม่ แยกจาก อำเภอเมืองยะลา โดยมีผลตั้งแต่วันที่ 2 เมษายน 2558 นี้
Yala province has created 2 new district named Kota Baru district split from Raman district and Lam Mai district split from Mueang Yala district. Effective April 2 2015.

[...] โดยออกเป็นพระราชกฤษฎีกา (พ.ร.ฎ.) ขณะนี้ เรื่องดังกล่าวจึงยังอยู่ในกระบวนการของกรมการปกครอง
The Royal Decree on this issue is still in processing by the officials.

The article then continues by giving the rationale for this change - both districts having lots of subdistricts and have their population grown, making it more comfortable for the citizen to have the administration split, and finally mentions that the names of these districts are not finalized yet, a royally bestowed name may be chosen instead of using the name of the central subdistrict.

It is a bit strange that this change was so completely unnoticed by any other Thai newspaper, as really no other online resource picked up that report, even on the website of the province a meeting from January is the only google hit. However, I currently cannot access that website, don't know why but for several months already several government websites are inaccessible. I still hesitate to modify the corresponding Wikipedia and Wikidata entries until the Royal Decree has been published, but now have to prepare the vector maps with the new boundaries. And I hope that the Department of Local Administration will update their list of the ccaatt codes soon, right now I had to invent codes for my XML file - I gave Lam Mai the 9509 and Kota Baru the 9510, and kept the subdistrict order same as it were in their previous districts.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Thailand - a late decentralizing country

Since I first noticed about the book "Thailand - a late decentralizing country" by Tanet Charoenmuang I wanted to add that to my library as it sounded to be exactly about the topics I am researching, especially the more rarely covered local governments. However I never found that book in any of the book stores in Bangkok, nor any online bookstore, so I already had lost any hope to ever get my hand on it. But then a random Google search returned a Facebook posting by the Urban Development Institute Foundation, the educational organization which published the book - they mentioned they still have copies of that book in stock.

As Chiang Mai isn't on my itinerary for the forthcoming visit in Thailand, a friend was able to order that book by mail for just 250 Baht. As another twist, that friend was supposed to visit us in Germany, but then due to a medical problem we had to meet in Amsterdam instead. But finally I have the book in hand now, and was able to read some pages already.

The book is in fact a compilation of various publications mostly from the 1990s, ending with a paper on the 2006 coup ousting the Thaksin administration. Most to the topic is chapter 3, the 1992 paper "Decentralization - Task of the decade" which gives lots of details on the situation before the inception of the TAO in the mid-1990s and the upgrade of the sanitary districts. One of the decentralization tasks mentioned is however still pending, the province governors are still appointed by the central government and not elected.

I will probably write more about things learned from this book later. Little fun point: right now it is one of the few books I own which have their own Wikidata entry because I used it as the reference for Tanet's birth date.

Monday, June 1, 2015

1960 census data for Chiang Mai

One of the antiquarian books I bought some time ago was one of the census data booklet of the 1960 census. While I personally would have preferred to get the one on Surat Thani, I guess the one I got on Chiang Mai might even be more interesting to my readers.

There are a total of 19 tables in the booklet, starting from the population numbers per district, the age structure, marriage status, place of birth, migration in the last five years, ability to speak Thai, foreign citizenships, religion, literacy, school grades and higher education, household sizes, number of children per woman, economic activity. A total of 35 pages with mostly numbers, so I have so far only looked into the most important tables, and translated the population numbers per district into a online spreadsheet embedded below.

Table 2 and 3 contain the age distribution of the population, in table 2 for the whole province and in table 3 for each district. Those (as well as the table 1) I have translated into my XML structures, making Chiang Mai the only province thoroughly covered in the census1960.xml file.

One thing which make the comparison with the last census of 2010 a bit difficult is the fact that in 1960 there were only 17 district, whereas today there are 25, so for those districts which have been split one has to be careful when comparing the numbers. Also as I don't have the corresponding numbers for 1970 or 1980, so a timeline isn't possible yet either.

Friday, April 24, 2015


The Department of Provincial Administration is starting a new public relations magazine named @amphoe, which seems to be part of their project Amphoe Yim (อำเภอยิ้ม, smiling district) running for some years already. Right now the first issue is only available in digital form, and if I understand it correctly the printed version will be out middle of May. They also did a Facebook page to promote this magazine.

The magazine is of course predominantly in Thai, but there are a few pages with English text as well, e.g. on page 23 a section named "Things you may not know about administration" includes the answer why there are only 76 provinces and not 77 as many wrongly believe. Though I cannot read much of the Thai text, the paper version would be a nice addition to my library. Anyone could grab me an issue and I will pick it up when I am in Thailand again in July?

I am not sure if this new magazine will replace the long-running Thesaphiban magazine also published by DOPA, or will be a more general-public supplement.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rename of Khilek municipality

Yesterday, the rename of Khilek subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลขี้เหล็ก) in Mae Taeng district, Chiang Mai province to Chom Chaeng (เทศบาลตำบลจอมแจ้ง) was announced in the Royal Gazette. As remains inaccessible, I could only now find with the Google cache that this name change was discussed in the board meeting on February 4 of the board to consider draft laws, but apparently wasn't discussed in the board to consider name changes. In fact, that board meeting is currently the only link which Google shows for Chom Chaeng, though now soon Wikipedia and Wikidata as well as this posting will also show.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Subdistrict reassignment in Uttaradit

Current area of Nam Pat district
hdamm and Potapt, Wikimedia Commons
Back in December I mentioned the forthcoming reassignment of the subdistrict Tha Faek in Uttaradit when it was approved by the cabinet. This change became effective on February 14 already following its announcement in the Royal Gazette on February 13, however I failed to report it on time here - I planned to have all the Wikipedia resources finished before, and only now realized that the Thai wikipedian Potapt already took over the biggest part, the update of the maps. As I already explained what's happening in December, I now focus on the coverage of this act in the Wikipedia universe.

While a few other Royal Gazette announcement were already transcribed for Wikisource, and some of them even translated into English - as government works these announcements are without copyright, so they are eligible to be stored at Wikisource - now I have tried to do this myself and thus created both the Thai and the English version of this announcement there. As I copied most of the legal phrases from other Thai law translations, my translation shouldn't be that bad.

The Wikipedia articles on the two affected districts Nam Pat and Tha Pla are updated in English, German and Thai, it remains to be seen how long it will take the obviously bot-created articles in Vietnamese and Bishnupriya Manipuri (one of the many languages of India) to be ever updated by a human being. I am quite skeptical such bot-created articles for topic totally unrelated to the main interests of the native speakers make any sense - for Vietnamese its at least an almost neighboring country, but doubt anyone speaking Bishnupriya Manipuri will ever be interested in a Thai district. Even the article on the subdistrict Tha Faek itself will probably be hardly ever read - even for Thai it seems this Tambon is hardly interesting, as the Thai Wikipedia still has no article on it. The TAO Tha Faek is on Wikidata as well, but has no article on any Wikipedia yet.

As I already linked the resonator pages for the districts above, created from the data in Wikidata, those already show a lot of information like the neighboring district, the population data including some historical, and of course the subdivisions including this change date and its reference. One quite basic information is still missing - there is still no datatype for giving the area, so I cannot be recorded yet that with this change the area of the two districts changed by 315 km², the area of Tha Faek subdistrict.

Last but not least there are the maps to show the location and extend of the districts. That Wikimedia Commons category contains both the maps I did 10 years ago while all the district article were created, and the much better vector maps originally created by fellow Wikipedian hdamm and now updated by Potapt.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Two new districts for Yala province forthcoming

The website used to be my prime source on planned administrative changes, most notably the municipal upgrades. However, for about a year it seems to offline or at least incredibly slow, so I wasn't able to notice important changes from the board meeting transcripts as I simply cannot even get the overview pages. Today I tried again, and though the website is still same unusable, at least Google had a cached copy of the 2558 board 2 meeting list, and the meeting on January 19 had two very interesting items on its agenda.
๑. ร่างพระราชกฤษฎีกาตั้งอำเภอลำใหม่ จังหวัดยะลา พ.ศ. ....
๒. ร่างพระราชกฤษฎีกาตั้งอำเภอโกตาบารู จังหวัดยะลา พ.ศ. ....
Two new districts were discussed to be created in Yala - Lam Mai (อำเภอลำใหม่) and Kota Baru (อำเภอโกตาบารู). Luckily, the PDF with the transcript is also available through the Google cache, so can extract some details as well. As both Mueang and Raman district have a quite big population - 165,000 and 91,000 respectively - it makes sense to decentralize the central administration in this area. I expect the official announcement in the Royal Gazette soon, so I already prepare to get the Wikidata items in good shape, and having the maps ready...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Population numbers 2014 announced in Royal Gazette

As done since 1994, also for last year the official population numbers were published in the Royal Gazette yesterday [Gazette]. As usual, these are the registration numbers as of December 31 2014, the same numbers as were already available since January in more detail on the DOPA statistics page.

As the numbers are all given in Thai numerals, the data at DOPA is not just more detailed but also easier to read - if you can read the province names in Thai, and pay attention with the municipal and non-municipal numbers. There's also the full data compiled by my tool into one XML file, but that's not really human readable...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Municipal upgrades

Yesterday, two municipal upgrade were announced in the Royal Gazette.
There are several interesting things around these. At first, the announcements were signed on December 29, and unlike many other upgrades they became published just one month after becoming effective. Which is rather fast for the announcements I look into, and given that municipal changes sometimes get published years after becoming effective (or haven't been announced at all) this is quite surprising.

Also interesting is the fact that for Lom Raet the announcement is titled เปลี่ยนแปลงเขตเทศบาลตำบลล้อมแรด และเปลี่ยนแปลงฐานะเป็นเทศบาลเมืองล้อมแรด - change of area of subdistrict municipality Lom Raet and change of status to be town municipality Lom Raet. Lom Raet became a sanitary district in 1955, which was enlarged two times in 1963 and 1973, and like all sanitary district became a subdistrict municipality in 1999. The 1973 announcement as the latest area definition still had only the central parts of the subdistrict as being within the jurisdiction of the sanitary district. But there was never a Tambon Council or a TAO for the remaining parts of the subdistrict, though the DOPA population statistics listed some small part of the population of the subdistrict as non-municipal. Hence it seems like this announcement makes the de-facto area now official.

It is also interesting how I became aware of these upgrades before they were published in the Royal Gazette. In past I found proposed upgrades in the meeting transcripts at, but those were not updated for several months now, and the site seems dead most of the time as well. Instead, it was the Thai Wikipedia potapt who updated the Wikidata item, which I then saw while checking the changes to the Wikidata items for the administrative entities for erroneous edits.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rename of Muban in Nan

Today, the change of the name of an administrative village in Nan province was announced in the Royal Gazette. Mu 6 of Nam Pua subdistrict, Wiang Sa district was renamed from Ban Mai Santi Phap (บ้านใหม่สันติภาพ) to Ban Pang Si Siat (บ้านปางสีเสียด). The announcement was signed by Ukrit Phuengsopa (อุกริช พึ่งโสภา), province governor of Nan, on November 13 last year, but does not state the date at which the name change became effective. The text also states that the change was approved by the board to consider name changes in its meeting number 5 on November 21 2013 - so almost one year before it was officially approved by the province governor. Interestingly, on the Thai Wikipedia the name of the Muban was already changed on September 30 2013, so even before the board meeting.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Population statistics 2014

Last year, the format of the population statistics on the website of DOPA changed significantly. Until 2012, there were static HTML files with all the data, but now it has been changed to pages using Javascript and retrieving the actual data with JSON requests. I still haven't finished writing the posting on the technical details of this new system and its pros and cons. But apparently one big pro of the new system just showed up now.

In past, these statistics usually came online in April, though the data dated from December 31 of the previous year. Don't know which processes made it take so long, since converting the data into HTML pages shouldn't be much difficult with some programming. To my big surprise, in the new statistics system the data for 2014 already showed up on January 10, or maybe even earlier as I didn't checked it before. Maybe now this new system is directly connected to the database containing the source data.

The total population of Thailand increased from 64,785,909 to 65,124,716, an increase of 338,807 or 0.5%. I still have to adjust the code to calculate the biggest gainer and looser to work with the new population data format, instead I show the graph of the DOPA population data since 1993. Except a big drop in 2004 - apparently due to a big registration data cleanup - there's a steady increase with around 0.5% for several years already.