Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The provincial administration of Siam from 1892 to 1915

2005 Thai edition
Tej Bunnag's book "The provincial administration of Siam from 1892 to 1915" was the first academic source I checked when I started writing about the topic in Wikipedia articles. Being long out of print (published in 1977), used copies are only found at ludicrous high prices, luckily I back then scanned all pages so I at least have my private e-book version of it. In 2005, a second edition was published, but only in Thai - and though I have that one my Thai is still way too bad to read anything.

But now by coincidence I stumbled on the original 1969 doctoral thesis, which was the basis for the book. The University of Oxford, where Tej Bunnag studied and graduated, had made the original version an open access item, so it can now be downloaded and read easily by everyone. Not sure whether I'll find the time to actually check what changes were done between the thesis and the book version, in fact more interesting would be any changes which were done for the Thai edition.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Statistical yearbook 2016

The latest edition of annual statistical yearbook was published in October 2016, though I just noticed it to be available online. Sadly, not the full PDF file can be downloaded, only a version for online reading (which even wants to use the obsolete flash) is available - even worse most of pages are garbled as the conversion tool handled Thai characters very faulty. At least the table which I use to import from the yearbooks can still be read.

But its not just that the online version is of bad quality, even worse the data itself has problems. According to Table 1.23 (Area and Administration Zone by Region and Province), the number of the administrative subdivisions by type as of May 27 2016 are (in brackets the coresponding numbers from the 2015 yearbook)
  • 928 districts (Amphoe and Khet) [2015: 928]
  • 7425 subdistricts (Tambon and Khwaeng) [2015: 7425]
  • 57081 administrative villages (Muban) [2015: 55387]
  • 2452 municipalities (Thesaban, including Pattaya) [2015: 2442]
  • 5433 subdistrict administrative organizations [2015: 5334]
Comparing with the 2015 numbers shows no change in the central administrative units except the Muban, but oddly changes in the number of the local governments even there have been municipal upgrades in the last year. While looking through the provinces, it seems that for several of them (but by far not all) instead of the current number of TAO the original number of TAO in 2002 was listed. The additional ten municipalities are due to a wrong number in Kamphaeng Phet, inbsteal of 25 the table lists 35. These wrong data however make the whole table totally worthless. Additionally, the number of administrative villages seems to have risen in a strange way by almost 2000, but only 55 Muban were created in 2016 and just 11 in 2015. Thus I can only suspect that here again old numbers were mixed with the current values, counting Muban which were previously excluded as being part of municipalities and thus loosing their function. However 900 of the new Muban are in fact a mistake in the 2015 edition, which lists 1097 Muban for Surin instead of 1907 as in 2014 and 2016. I posted a more detailed discussion of the varying Muban numbers earlier.

Even though at least this table in the yearbook has become useless, I nevertheless translated it into my XML structure, but adding a new schema entries to indicate and correct the bogus values. But what really worries me is that if an amateur like me can already spot such big mistakes in this publication, what is the quality of the other tables then?

Monday, January 16, 2017

New issues of @amphoe

The Facebook page of the @Amphoe magazine did not get any update since September, and at about the same time the @amphoe page at the Department of Provincial Administration disappeared. Both made me assume that this magazine quietly was shut down after just nine issues. Thus it was kind of a surprise when I tried to look again the DOPA website and it suddenly not just worked again, but showed two new issues already.

Issue 10 (5/2559) has an interview with the chief district office of Phop Phra in Tak, Prasong La-on (ประสงค์ หล้าอ่อน), talking on the special problems of the rather remote district. The 200,000-baht-per-village project is the topic of another English section, as well as a short list of the travel highlight of Mukdahan province - hence the title photo of this issue showing the special rock formations in Phu Pha Thoep National Park.

Issue 11 (6/2559) is a special issue with the late King as its only topic. As far as I can see the content hardly concerns the Amphoe administration at all, and there is no English content this time. Given the immense popularity of the King as well as the publisher being a government department its no wonder they choose to publish one special issue.

And to do my usual nitpicking - the URL advertised in the magazines www.dopa.go.th/amphoe returns a 404 error, the URL which works is atamphoe.dopa.go.th. Also apparently the process to create the PDF files has been changed, now these are only containing graphics and no text elements anymore, which has increased the file size by a factor of 8 and now makes it completely impossible to copy any content to Google Translate. And sadly, still issue 8 (3/2559) is missing in the download page, the later issues are wrongly numbered.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Census 1970 codebook

When I was first looking for the old census data, one of the online resource I found was the Open Data library of the Worldbank, which includes some documents from the 1970 census. Though not the actual census data - which I later got elsewhere - but also the codebook is an interesting resource as it contains a list of the provinces with the number of districts, subdistrict and administrative villages, and even more useful a list of all the subdistricts with their village numbers - the total numbers for 1970 were 580 districts (including the minor districts), 5126 subdistricts and 45504 villages.

I am slowly working through this document to extract all these village numbers and compile them in my XML structure, which already turned out to be a good cross-check of the data I already compiled as I found a few cases where I had missed or wrongly added the creation of a subdistrict. The document however has two drawbacks, some pages are badly printed and even have hand-written corrections making the numbers sometimes difficult or impossible to read. The Thai names seem to have mistakes sometimes as well, some might have been spelling changes however which were not announced in the Royal Gazette. Also, some pages are missing, so it cannot be turned into a complete 1970 subdistrict list.

Yet, so far the biggest problem showed up with the above excerpt from Mueang Pathum Thani district. All 14 present-day subdistricts can be found in the list except Ban Chang (ตำบลบ้านฉาง) - and instead the list shows a Ban Nao subdistrict (ตำบลบ้านนาว) with seven Muban. As there are zero Google hits for such a subdistrict name, and I the name of Ban Chang seemed to have never changed, it might have been a mistake in the Thai name, changing two characters. But - Ban Chang has just four villages, but Ban Nao had seven, and there was no change in the boundaries of Ban Chang either explaining how the village number could have decreased. I can only suspect this is a real mistake in the codebook.

Issues of the Local Directory (ทำเนียบท้องที่) from about that time would help to clear up this issue as well as help to fill the pages missing in that file, but none of these are available online, and those few libraries I could visit so far in Thailand didn't have any such books.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New provincial license plates

On December 27th four announcements regarding the colorful provincial license plates were published in the Royal Gazette. Samut Songkhram is about the last province which now has such a graphic defined (only Yala and Mae Hong Son have none yet), the three other announcements only added a new design for the respective province.
  • Phetchabun: a completely new design added, showing the highlights of Khao Kho district - the hill with Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaeo (วัดพระธาตุผาซ่อนแก้ว) with a misty background, and inserted at the right the Khao Kho Memorial (อณุสรณ์สถานผู้เสียสละเขาค้อ) commemorating the victims of the communist insurgency 1965-1982. The 2013 design still looked very different. [Gazette]
  • Surin: Comparing with the plate announced in 2012, only the elephants are present in both designs. In the upper left corner are the flowers of the provincial symbol flower Fagraea fragrans. The upper right shows the Tha Sawang silk. However, I don't know which pier and body of water is depicted. [Gazette]
  • Roi Et: The new plate has the same elements as the plate announced in 2015, the only difference is the purple background instead of a green background in 2015. [Gazette]
  • Samut Songkhram: The license plate shows the same elements as the provincial seal - a drum (Klong) on the Mae Klong river with coconut trees on both sides. [Gazette]
My album of provincial license plates is still incomplete and badly sorted... I have also prepared a spreadsheet listing the years by which plates were announced for each province.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New non-hunting areas

The last announcements of 2016 I had processed from the Royal Gazette were about protected areas, and the first of 2017 are again of the same category - another six new non-hunting areas (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่า) were created by the publication on January 5.
  • Khao Phanom Thong (เขาพนมทอง), Phitsanulok, covering 14125 rai of the Lum Nam Wang Thong Fang Sai national forest. [Gazette]]
  • Mae Lao-Mae Kok (แม่ลาว-แม่กก), Chiang Rai, covering 8025 rai of the Mae Lao Fang Sai and Mae Kok Fang Khwa national forest. [Gazette]]
  • Nong Leng Sai (หนองเล็งทราย), Phayao, covering 8025 rai around the same-named lake. [Gazette]]
  • Huai Sak-Mae Kok (ห้วยสัก-แม่กก), Chiang Rai, covering 4003 rai of the Huai Sak and Mae Kok Fang Khwa national forest. [Gazette]]
  • Sob Kok (สบกก), Chiang Rai, covering 5550 rai of the Sob Kok Fang Khwa national forest. [Gazette]]
  • Mae Pun Noi-Mae Pun Luang-Huai Pong Men (แม่ปูนน้อย-แม่ปูนหลวง-ห้วยโป่งเหม็น), Chiang Rai, covering 5550 rai of the Mae Pun Noi, Mae Pun Luang and Huai Pong Men national forest. [Gazette]]
My main problem - I have no idea what are the official names of these non-hunting areas. The Royal Gazette announcements don't state a name for the protected area, it only names the national forests or the area which is affected. I haven't been able to find any updated list of non-hunting areas on the website of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department either. The latest I have is a spreadsheet which lists all the protected areas, which however dates from 2013. While it included a few non-hunting areas pending their official creation, none of these six was among them. Therefore, I haven't yet added items in WikiData for them, as I don't want to make those guessed names listed above any more public.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Population statistics 2016 available

Already on January 2nd, the DOPA statistics website did show the registration data as of December 31, 2016 down to subdistrict level. According to these data, the population increased in 2016 by 202,452 citizen, a growth of 0.31%. To make the registration data more accessible, I have created an online sheet with the data from 1993 till 2016 for every the province, the same amount of detail which will be published later in the Royal Gazette.

One observation is that the provinces around Bangkok grew by 1 to 2 percent, the largest increase in Samut Sakhon, whereas Bangkok itself had a small decrease in population. The only other province with a significant growth was Phuket. However, as usual, the caveat is that this is the registration data, which not necessarily means the actual population number as especially migrant workers from the poorer provinces who work around Bangkok often keep their registration in their home province - the reason why the census results differ significantly from the registration data. But if keeping that in mind, one might do some nice analysis with the data in the above spreadsheet.

The population growth for the whole country is slowly decreasing, as can be seen by the below chart. Note I have omitted the number from 2004, when apparently a data cleanup was done which caused a decrease by almost 2%.

The data not yet updated is the population by age, and the table with marriages, divorces, child acknowledges, adoptions and dissolved adoptions, and foreign family status registrations. I'll add those to the XML file once I notice them becoming available.

I have already started to add the new population data to the various items on WikiData, from the country down to district level so far. I still have to look into an issue with the municipal population however before being able to cover all administrative units.

Monday, January 2, 2017

129th national park

Though they are not really connected to the administrative subdivisions, I am also collecting the protected areas in my XML files and thus also monitor the Royal Gazette for any newly declared national park or other protected areas. In the final week of 2016, three new protected areas have been officially declared, most notably the 129th national park Nam Tok Chet Sao Noi (อุทยานแห่งชาติน้ำตกเจ็ดสาวน้อย) in Saraburi province. As the declaration of national parks requires a Royal order, this is also the first such announcement processed by me which was signed by the the new king.

Like the 18 other national parks which are pending their official declaration, the area around the Chet Sao Noi waterfall has been unofficially treated as a national park for several years already, as can be seen by the street view of the entrance from 2014. The park covers an area of 26238 rai (41.9802 km²) at the border between Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima province and consists of the three forests Thap Khwang (ป่าทับกวาง)and Muak Lek Pleng 1 (ป่ามวกเหล็ก แปลงที่ ๑) - protected in 1984 as a national forest [Gazette] and Dong Phaya Yen (ป่าดงพญาเย็น) created in 1962 [Gazette]. Interestingly, both were not among those national forest announcements I had collected before, the title of the announcements had changed slightly and thus they slipped my previous searches.

The other two new protected areas are non-hunting areas, less protected than National Parks and thus the announcements are done by the Ministry of National Resources and Environment itself. The two new areas are
  • Pa Ban Hong non-hunting area (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่าป่าบ้านโฮง) covering 379 km² in the border of Chiang Mai and Lamphun province [Gazette].
  • Doi Phu Kha non-hunting area (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่าดอยภูคา) covering 119 km² in Nan province [Gazette]. This area wasn't listed as a non-hunting area under creation in any of the lists I found so far, so I am not sure if the official name is correct - the announcement only lists the names of the forests included, not the name of the non-hunting area created.