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.