Thursday, July 31, 2008

Past Thai-Lao boundary issues

Found on the Preah Vihear blog: a paper titled "Laos in 1984: The year of Thai border" by Arthur J. Dommen. Unlike the current boundary conflict with Cambodia on the exact location of the boundary at Preah Vihear, back then the disputed area of 19 km² was a unimportant mountainous stretch between Ban Khok subdistrict, Ban Kok district, Uttaradit Province of Thailand and Paklay district, Sayaboury Province of Laos. Another difference to the currect issue is the fact that both armies fought there for several days with light arms as well as heavy artillery. I only hope something like this can be avoided this time, as it would be both totally pointless and would only destroy further the ruins of the temple just inscribed as a World Heritage site. The appointment of Tej Bunnag as new foreign minister is a good sign that rational thinking isn't completely lost in the current nationalistic fervor.

Muban rename

Published today in the Royal Gazette an announcement renaming one village (muban) in Chiang Mai Province.

Volume 125, Issue 88 ง on Page 179 contains the rename of village 5 of subdistrict Huai Sai, Mae Rim district, from Ban Lao (บ้านเหล่า) to Ban Hua Fai (บ้านหัวฝาย).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

DOPA multimedia

Some month ago the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) started a multimedia section on their website. As my Thai is not yet good enough to follow TV, and I suspect those videos even use more difficult technical vocabulary. But when I now looked there again, I noticed the one titled แนะนำกรมการปกครอง (introduction to DOPA), as it seems to be an historical overview of the department and its tasks. So I can only guess the video below contains something like the (rather outdated) English website of DOPA.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tambon area clarification in Yang Talat, Kalasin

Published in the Royal Gazette yesterday - Volume 125, Issue พิเศษ 123 ง on Pages 24-27 - two subdistrict boundaries in Yang Talat district, Kalasin Province, were redefined.

The two subdistrict affected are Itue (ตำบลอิตื้อ) and Non Sung (ตำบลโนนสูง). The announcement does not say what has been changed, so the only thing I could get out of this announcement is the list of villages (muban) within the two subdistricts, each has twelve of them. At least this number must have changed relatively recently, as when I created the subdistrict list in the Wikipedia article my source listed only 11 for both. I can find the creation of village 12 (บ้านยางคำเหนือ, Ban Yang Kham Nuea) in Itue in the Royal Gazette - Volume 123, Issue พิเศษ 23 ง on Pages 46-48, effective November 11 2005. But for village 12 of Non Sung (บ้านสร้างมิ่งใต้, Ban Sang Ming Tai) I cannot find anything in the muban announcements till 2003, so as mentioned yesterday this might be created with this announcement. Another indicator for this is ThaiTambon, which lists only 11 muban and is usually quite up-to-date.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cabinet reshuffle

The first minister of the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle has been appointed already, former US ambassador Tej Bunnag became the new foreign minister. Due to the Preah Vihear crisis, prime minister Samak obviously could not wait with this appointment any longer and leave this post vacant till he gives the full list of changes in his cabinet. Several of his ministers resigned recently for various reasons, while others came under attack as being not competent enough for their respective posts.

Tej Bunnag (เตช บุนนาค, actually pronounced "Tet"), a member of the prestigious Bunnag family, studied history in Oxford before starting to work in the foreign service in 1969. What I wasn't sure about until now is whether he is the same as the author of The Provincial Administration of Siam 1892-1915, but news reports like "Meet Tej Bunnag" now pointed me strongly to believe that it is him. That book based upon his 1968 Ph.D. dissertation is the administrative reforms by Prince Damrong, the first minister of the Interior. I am still looking to get myself a copy of this book, I only have scans from one from a library. And to make the full circle, I wonder if the current minister of the Interior, Chalerm Yubamrung (เฉลิม อยู่บำรุง), will be among those to loose his job in the forthcoming reshuffle as well since he attracted quite some criticism over his performance in office.

Tambon area clarifications revisited

Earlier I suspected that the announcements titled การกำหนดเขตตำบล only contained minor adjustments within the area of the subdistrict. As I have been going through all those where I can copy-and-paste the contents (i.e. the ones since 2003), I now found one case where hidden within this announcement a village was created anew and another one was reassigned from one subdistrict to another, so more than just a minor boundary clarification.

There have been two such announcements for the district Ban Na in Nakhon Nayok province, one in 2006 and another in 2007. And both give the full muban list for the subdistricts affected, so it became possible to compare the two lists with each other.

While for most of the subdistricts the village list is unchanged, two differences show up.
  • Ban Khlong 31 Phattana (บ้านคลอง ๓๑ พัฒนา), Village 12 of subdistrict Ban Na becomes village 12 of subdistrict Ban Phrik
  • Ban Rong Rian Triam Thahan (บ้านโรงเรียนเตรียมทหาร) gets created in Si Ka-ang subdistrict.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Vision statement of Talat Chaiya municipality

Sign with the vision statement of Talat Chaiya municipality
Almost every government agency has a vision statement (วิสัยทัศน์), to sum up how they intend to work for their subjects or clients. I have shown the one the Department of Provincial Administration placed on their website earlier, another one I spotted when I went to the municipal office of Talat Chaiya subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลตลาดไชยา), a sign hanging directly next to the entrance.

Strangely the much longer statements on their website does not include the one printed on that sign. The vision statements listing aims should not be confused with the slogans (คำขวัญ), which the provinces and most districts have. These slogan list geographical or cultural highlights of the area. I will devote a future posting to these slogans.

The vision statement of Talat Chaiya municipality reads as follows:

เทศบาลตำบลตลาดไชยา เป็นเมืองน่าอยู่

Talat Chaiya municipality is a lively town


aim to be central town of northern Surat Thani


Population have high quality of living


community have safety in life and possession

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Automatic map for district office locations

Inspired by a posting on the Google Earth blog I have created a Google spreadsheet with all the location data for districts as well as the municipality - well, "all" means what it will have when I am finished with editing the spreadsheet, right now it just a few entries to play with. They nifty thing about this - the same was as in that other application on the Starbucks closures I now can get a dynamical map with all the location marks, updated every time I edit anything in the spreadsheet. Since this map requires a Google Maps API key I cannot embed it here, but you can see it on my website. Something I haven't yet found it how to export this dynamic map in KML, so it can be included into Google Earth as well.

While this automatic map is of course just a new toy, filling this spreadsheet with the location data forces me to check all the locations, especially which ones I did confirm with the hires data of Google Earth already, and for the remaining ones what is the actual source of them. Then when there's the next update within Google Earth with new hires data for Thailand I can more easily check which Wikipedia articles I have to update. I also added one location in simple Geo syntax to the XMLs in my coding project, so working through all the districts once more I should now add the location into the XML directly as well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Muban geocodes

The geocodes for provinces, district and subdistricts include another two digits at the end for the villages (muban, หมู่บ้าน). The villages itself had a numerical code long before that geocode system was introduced, they are named หมู่ที่ # (Mu Ti #). While they also have a name, this does not have to be unique - the term "village" is a bit misleading, larger settlements may be subdivided into several muban sharing the same name but obviously different numbers. On the other hand there are also muban which cover several small settlements and thus have two or three names. Hence the name is not a possible way to identify a muban, but the number is the only unambiguous way.

So for example Bang Boet Lang (บางเบิดล่าง or village 1 of subdistrict Bang Bai Mai in Mueang Surat Thani district has the geocode 84010501 - province code 84, Mueang district always have the 01, and the subdistrict has the number 5. A case where the name is not unique are villages 1 to 4 of Phai Khwang subdistrict, Mueang Phichit district, which are all named Ban Dan (บ้านดาน); finally village 8 of Samo Khae subdistrict in Mueang Phitsanulok is named Ban Chat Kaeo - Chin Lap (บ้านฉัตรแก้ว-ชินลาภ), a name listing the two settlements which are comprised into this single administrative entitiy.

There is however a problem with the village numbers as well - they are not stable in time. At least till the end of the 1990s, when the last subdistricts were created - the villages left after splitting off a new subdistrict get renumbered, so a given code can refer to two different villages, one always have to add the date one is using. The codes for the higher levels however do not get reused, so it has districts and provinces where the numbers of the sub-entities have holes. However only a few of the Royal Gazette announcements on the subdistrict creations explicitly state the renumbering, like the one of Sala Lai (ตำบลศาลาลัย), Sam Roi Yot, Prachuap Khiri Khan in 1995, in most cases this was done implicitly.

To make this even more confusing - there are subdistricts where the village numbers has hole. The first one I came across is probably a mistake. In the 2008 announcement with tambon area clarification of Lum Din (ตำบลหลุมดิน), Amphoe Mueang Ratchaburi number 1 is missing, however in the similar announcement from 1998 the same list of names starts with one instead. But Wat Chan (ตำบลวัดจันทร์) subdistrict of Mueang Phitsanulok really only has villages 2, 4, 7 till 10, as one can see in a 2006 Gazette announcement as well as the website of the TAO. But I cannot find yet what had happened with the villages having the missing numbers, there was no new subdistrict created there recently, maybe they have been reassigned to the city of Phitsanulok and thus subdistrict Nai Mueang?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Muban list from DOPA?

In the command section of the website of the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) I just noticed one notable one titled ให้จังหวัดแจ้งอำเภอและเทศบาลเร่งรัดตรวจสอบข้อมูลหมู่บ้านหรือชุมชนแล้วแต่กรณี. If I am not wrong the title translates to "[order] to provinces to advise districts and municipalities to speed up check if data of village (muban) and boroughs (chumchon) confirms with facts". Some others talk about a รายชื่อหมู่บ้านและชุมชน (list of names of villages and boroughs). This all seem to be concerned with the introduction of some new SML-based technology.

It would be great if this would enabled DOPA to publish a complete list of villages and boroughs, additional to the list of subdistricts they already have on their website. Actually, they should have all the information for the plain list with code and name, it just appears not to be public. So far I have only found incomplete ones (e.g. this), or just recently this Excel sheet from a server of the Ministry of Public Health. This second one has 58188 villages with their name and geocode, apparently as of 2005. But it must be incomplete as well, as there are more than 70,000 villages.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Satellite Exploration of Thailand

As I am always looking for new sources of information around the administrative entities, I am often checking if Google finds anything interesting. The website searches for terms like amphoe or tambon are already polluted with spam websites for hotels and such (yet luckily this blog is still in the top 20), but the image search now led me to a great new project.

Shinji Saito from Japan is apparently writing a kind of an online book comparing different maps and various satellite photography of Thailand. Named Satellite Exploration of Thailand it currently consists of three parts - a general introduction, a description of the many sources of maps and satellite images, and then finally several areas in a detailed study. Due to the current politics the most interesting one is of course the boundary area at Khao Phra Viharn. And there are also further areas he is still working one where one can already see his drafts.

That site is now in my bookmarks, and after reading it completely I will continue to monitor it for updates.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Regions change in 1948

Regions as of 1949When I wrote on the regions in the 1940s earlier, I omitted one announcement with another change of the provinces contained in the five regions. I just find that one now because it had a slightly different caption - using ปรับปรุง (improve, adjust) instead of เปลี่ยนแปลง (change) and therefore slipped through my previous search in the Royal Gazette database.

The changes were announced on December 31 1948, little bit more than one year after the previous change for the region. The changes mostly concern region 1 and 2, which change back to the outline of 1941 with a western and eastern region. The northern region gets enlarged again with respect to the 1947 outline, also unlike all other outlines, the province Prachuap Khiri Khan has been added to the southern region. Yet the most odd thing is the fact that coastal provinces Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon belong to region 2, while the inland provinces directly north all belong to region 1. Thus if the district Bang Khun Thian of Thonburi province like today extended till the coastline, these two provinces became exclaves within the regional outline.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

PAO election brochure, Part 2

I haven't forgotten the PAO election brochure, I just was too busy with other tasks like working through the TAO, so this one was put behind a bit. But now the next page of the brochure, with another issue on the voter directory, and then the description of the voting procedure itself.  

เลือกตั้งปรากฏอยู่ในทะเบียนบ้าน ให้เจ้าบ้าน
หรือผู้ซึ่งเจ้าบ้านมอบหมาย นำสำเนาทะเบียนบ้าน
ท้องถิ่น ณ งานทะเบียนราษฎร์ สำนักทะเบียน
ท้องถิ่น และที่ว่าการอำเภอ ก่อนวันเลือกตั้ง
ไม่น้อยกว่า ๑๐ วัน ทั้งนี้ตั้งแต่วันที่
๓๐ มีนาคม ๙ เมษายน ๒๕๕๑ 

How to withdraw your name
In case an eligible voter or a house owner can see that
the voters directory contains the name of a person without
voting rights go to the house registration, either the house owner
or a person entrusted by the house owner, bring a copy of the house register
of the house owner to be proof for the local house registration officer
at the local registration office
and the district office before election day
no less than 10 days, in between
30 March and 9 April 2551 

* นำบัตรประชาชน หรือบัตรประจำตัว
เจ้าหน้าที่ของรัฐ ใบอนุญาตขับขี่ ยื่นแสดง
หน่วยเลือกตั้ง ณ หน่วยเลือกตั้งทีมีสิทธิ

Voting procedures
* bring ID card or for government officials
the working card, driving license, give to
indicate your wish to vote to the regular board
of the voting station where you have the right
to vote

* ผู้มีสิทธิลงคะแนนเลือกตั้งหนึ่งคน จะได้รับบัตร
๒ ใบ โดยทำเครื่องหมาย กากบาท (x) ดังนี้ 

every eligible voter receives two ballot papers to make to cross (x) signs as follows

ใบที่หนึ่ง บัตรเลือกสมาชิกสภาองค์การบริหาร
ส่วนจังหวัด กากบาทได้ ๑ คน 

First leaf: ballot paper for the PAO council mark one person with a cross  

ใบที่สอง บัตรเลือกนายกองค์การบริหาร
ส่วนจังหวัด กากบาทได้ ๑ คน 

Second leaf: ballot paper for the PAO chairman mark one person with a cross 

นำบัตรลงคะแนนเลือกตั้งหน่วย หย่อนใส่

Bring the ballot paper to the ballot box, and drop it into the ballot box only in front of the ballot station committee

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Varadis Palace

Yesterday I stumbled upon the Wikipedia article on the Varadis Palace, the former residence of Prince Damrong. The article consisted of the single sentence
Varadis Palace is a museum in Bangkok, Thailand.
How much I hate articles like this, they are totally useless in my view. In moments like this I wish the English Wikipedia would adopt the same policy on such non-articles as the German Wikipedia, where stuff like this is instantly deleted. I enlarged by more than 100%, only adding the most trivial things like that it was the home of Prince Damrong, that it was built in 1911 and renovated in 1996, as well as adding the geotag so it will show up in Google Earth or Google Maps in the future as well. All these things the original author could have done by investing 5 minutes on Google, instead of leaving the actual work to someone else. The article is now still very short and has a lot of potential for future expansion, but at least it contains the most important information and not just the obvious ones. And to make it worse - there are maybe 100 articles in this state on various sights in Bangkok, all linked from a list of museums in Bangkok - which even includes Phutthamonthon to be in Bangkok.

But how is this related with the topic of this blog. Prince Damrong Rajanubhab was the first Interior Minister of Thailand, and it was him who created the administrative system still in use today in the thesaphiban (เทศาภิบาล) administrative reforms at the beginning of the 20th century.When I first read about this palace in the tour-bangkok-legacies website it is on my list of places I need to visit, but so far I haven't made it there - otherwise I might have written the above article before already, and would also have photos to illustrate it.

When Googeling to enlarge that article, I also came across a website dedicated to Prince Damrong from the Ministry of Interior. However in English it sadly only has one page.

Monday, July 14, 2008

PAO constituencies

PAO election poster of list 3 in constituency 2 of Mueang districtWhen I first mentioned the constituencies for the PAO elections in Surat Thani, I wrote that I could not find the list of the constituencies and the areas covered by each. I checked both the website of the province as well as the one of the PAO itself, but did not find anything - and I wonder why I haven't looked at the most obvious source for such things, the Royal Gazette.

When I earlier looked at the website of the Royal Gazette, I checked their list of new announcements in the vain hope that they might have something like a RSS feed for this. But instead I noticed that the entry at the bottom was on the constituencies for the elections of Ranong PAO (การแบ่งเขตเลือกตั้งสมาชิกสภาองค์การบริหารส่วนจังหวัดระนอง), and so I could easily find the same for Surat Thani dating from 2003. So I can now finally compile a XML with the complete data on the 2008 Surat Thani PAO election, including the results I found earlier. I'll announce it once I have it finished.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Various geocode systems for Thailands subdivisions

For all my purposes I am using the geocode system from the Ministry of Interior, with the two digit numbers for the provinces, four digits for district, six for the subdistricts. It's simply the easiest and most common system, and unlike all the others it goes down till the village level and apparently even includes the municipalities. And also parts of the codes are covered by the national standard TIS 1099-2548. But there are other geocode systems for the country subdivisions, which are not just limited to Thailand.

The most well-known geocoding system for country subdivisions is of course the ISO standard 3166-2, which in fact is identical with the province codes of TIS 1099, only the 3166-1 country code TH is added to disambiguate it with the codes from other countries. The only specialty is the code of Pattaya in that standard, TH-S, as Pattaya forms a special administrative area, which is a local government structure but outside the municipal (thesaban) system.

The US Federal government uses its own standard FIPS 10-4, which confusingly has the same structure as the ISO codes, but the numbers for each province is totally different. Another problem with it - after 4 new provinces were created in the early 1990s, not only new codes were added, but also the codes for the provinces altered were changed. The FIPS codes were also used in a first draft for the ISO standard (ISO/DIS 3166-2:TH), but probably after intervention from the Thai government the TIS system was finally used. Both ISO and FIPS only cover the first level of country subdivisions.

Gwillim Law both in his book as well as on his website proposes his own geocode system named HASC (Hierarchical Administrative Subdivision Codes), addressing several problems other geocode systems have. For Thailand he has added codes till the district level, though it won't be difficult (just a lot of work due to the sheer number) to add the subdistricts or even the villages as well. Just too bad that the most serious flow he sees in the ISO and FIPS system, the time lag from changes in the entities till they get an official code, also applies to his HASC codes - not because of the bureaucratic work to be done but simply because he seems to be too busy. Wiang Kao still has no HASC code, even though I had notified him of this new district quite some time ago already.

The United Nations develop their own system of geocodes, going down till the second administrative level. Named Second Administrative Level Boundaries (SALB), it also includes maps of the boundaries, though only for few countries so far. Sadly they claim copyright on both the maps and the codes, and access to their website is only possible after registration. And of course any commercial use must be licensed, so I doubt the SALB codes will get much popularity. For Thailand, it has codes for the years 1990-2003, but no maps yet. Due to the five year time lag, it also does not contain Wiang Kao. But what is useful is the fact, that they also list the changes, i.e. the new provinces of the 1990s. But same as FIPS they chose to give different codes to e.g. Udon Thani before and after Nong Bua Lamphu was split off. Also, the list of historic changes of the 2nd level entities is "under process" - they'll have to list the 142 new districts created since 1990 there.

To also list a probably obsolete set of codes, in the national census 1990 the National Statictical Office had used codes which look similar with the TIS 1099, but in fact all the numbers, both for provinces as well as for the subdistricts, are different. There'll be a blog posting dedicated to this coding system in the future.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Missing TAO announcements

Another part of the missing Royal Gazette announcement series, this time for the TAO. While working through the 6781 TAO creations since 1995 and cross-checking them with the list of TAO and municipalities (thesaban), there are a few cases where I could not find the complete history with my sources so far, so either it wasn't announced in the Royal Gazette at all, or the announcement is for whatever reason not be found.
  • The first one I already mentioned when I compiled the complete list of local government units of Surat Thani - the creation of TAO Bang Kung (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบางกุ้ง) was announced in 1995, however that area was also added into the town Surat Thani in 1994. Either the abolishment of that TAO is missing, or it was a mistake to list it in the creation announcement.
  • TAO Wiang (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลเวียง) in Phrao district, Chiang Mai, was created in 1997, and apparently it was included into the subdistrict municipality Wiang Phrao (เทศบาลตำบลเวียงพร้าว). But all I could find about that was this listing, which suggest that the merge was done in 2000 - which I could not find in the Royal Gazette yet. However the addition of TAO Thung Luang into the same municipality in 2004 was announced in the Gazette.
  • The rename of TAO and subdistrict Plueai (เปลือย) to Hua Chang (หัวช้าง), Suwannaphum district, Roi Et, maybe in 1999.
  • In Nong Song Hong district, Khon Kaen province, two TAO had a different spelling in the announcement on their creation than they have today. For Khuemchat, the (silent) final i is left out, thus คึมชาดิ changes to คึมชาด; for Wang Hin (วังหิน) it is spelled Wan Hin (วันหิน).
  • In Kalasin, the TAO Non Sila Loeng (โนนศิลาเลิง) was announced with the name Non Sila (โนนศิลา), however I cannot find anything about a rename.
  • TAO Nong Yai (หนองใหญ่), Chonburi province, was apparently merged into the municipality Nong Yai, but no announcement on this.
  • The TAO Samrong Phlan (สำโรงพลัน), Sisaket province, was announced by the name Samrong Phlap (สำโรงพลับ), and no notice on a rename of the TAO. Another TAO of Sisaket, Pa Ao, changed spelling slightly, a silent R has been left out, so ประอาว became ปะอาว.
  • In Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, the TAO Bo Ta Lo (บ่อตาโล่) is spelled Bo Ta So (บ่อตาโส). This is most likely a misspelling, the tone mark changed the letter L into a S.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

City status for Samui - more confusion

The municipal status of Ko Samui seems to become a quite odd story. In March the provincial governor tried to block the upgrade, but just few days after that was reported it was decided by the Ministry of Interior to upgrade it to city status, effective April 19. However I haven't found any other reports on this thereafter. Samui Express changed their website in April and May making some editions never appear online, so I thought I just missed the important article. Now, to my surprise, on the Thai Wikipedia the article on the municipality was just recently moved to เทศบาลเมืองเกาะสมุย - Thesaban Mueang (town) instead of Thesaban Nakhon (city), one status lower than originally decided. So I asked the one who moved the article - a wikipedian who works a lot on the districts and other administrative entities in the Thai Wikipedia - and he pointed me to a news article of the regional office 5 of the Public Relations Department "ยกฐานะเทศบาลตำบลเกาะสมุยเป็นเทศบาลเมือง", which states that the upgrade was effective June 9. Also the website of the municipality now calls itself Thesaban Mueang.

Neither that user nor me yet know when and why the original decision was revoked and changed; the website with the meeting transcripts right now ends with the meeting on May 8, so maybe after the next update of that site we can see in more detail what happened.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cancelled municipality upgrade?

While working through the board meeting transcripts of 2007, in the one of meeting 36/2007 there seems to be talking about upgrading TAO Bang Phriang (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบางเพรียง) to a subdistrict municipality. However unlike all the other similar sections in these transcripts, this one does not include the date it will be effective in the concise first paragraph, and even though that meeting was almost one year ago Google does not find anything about the municipality except the transcript and the Excel sheet with all the topics of 2007. Also the website of the TAO does not say anything about municipal status either.

As my Thai is still way to bad, and reading it with the great thai2english is also quite hard, I don't know what is being talked about in the text, only the last sentence gives an idea - if I understand it correctly.
เรื่อง จัดตั้งองค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบางเพรียง อำเภอบางบ่อ จังหวัดสมุทรปราการ เป็นเทศบาลตำบลบางเพรียง จากการพิจารณาของคณะกรรมการพิจารณาร่างกฎหมายของกระทรวงมหาดไทยได้
to my understanding means on the upgrade of TAO Bang Phriang, Bang Bo district, Samut Prakan province to become a subdistrict municipality, to abandon the consideration by the committee to draft bills of the Ministry of Interior. The reasons for this must be within the two pages of text on this topic I cannot read.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Regions of Thailand in the 1950s

Regions as of 1955Regions as of 1951As mentioned before, the four regions which existed in the 1940s were changed into 9 regions in 1951. What makes this interesting comes clear when one compares the regions with geocodes of the provinces today - the first digit of these is exactly the region number the provinces belonged to.

Well, not completely, there are three deviations. At first, Samut Prakan and Uttaradit changed the region in 1955, however for the geocode only half of this change was used. Samut Prakan has geocode 11, and was reassigned from region 2 to 1 in 1955. Uttaradit however has geocode 53, but was reassigned from region 5 to 6 in 1955. The third one is Nong Bua Lam Phu, which was created in 1993 and received the geocode 39. However the parent district Khon Kaen belonged to region 4. The reason why it got a different number is quite simply the fact that all number from 40 to 49 were already used; also 38 is still left free which also shows that the 39 actually belonged into the forties. Maybe they should have used hexadecimal geocodes, as soon as they create more than one new province in the northeast the numbers will run out. Also the central region 1 is full already with geocodes. I don't want to list all the provinces with their regions here, so if the maps aren't enough simply look at the ISO 3166-2 standard defining the geocodes.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thongchai Winichakul on the Preah Vihear issue

Thongchai Winichakul, historian professor at the University of Wisconsin and most well-known for his book "Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo Body of a Nation", wrote a comment on the Preah Vihear issue in English language newpaper The Nation. Since I blogged about that issue some month ago, it has apparently become the main political topic in Thailand, especially now the UNESCO World heritage committee started its annual session with that temple on their agenda. While the foreign ministry tries to keep tensions down by a joint statement on the nomination with the Cambodia government, especially the Democratic Party as well as the PAD protesters on the streets try to use the nationalistic feeling for their fight with the government. And all this despite the fact that the issue was already finally settled at the International Court of Justice in 1962, which confirmed the boundary as marked by the French in 1907. Below are the in my opinion main statements in Prof. Thongchai's comments, though I recommend to read it completely:
Using the temple to fan nationalism can lead to much bigger tragedy. The nature of modern boundaries between Thailand and its neighbours is like a time bomb. [...] With little exception, claims to exclusive "ownership" rights of borderlands longer than the past 100 to 130 years are probably false and historically impossible to support. [...] We should respect the settlement provided by the court since Thailand has no better justifiable claim than Cambodia. Despite that, the talks about "losing territory" have been common among thoughtless nationalists in the region. [...] Thais have been taught their territories were lost as well. Every country lost territories. The idea of loss is a powerful tool used to whip up nationalism, especially in domestic politics. The dark side of nationalism is dangerous as ever. It has now become a weapon in today's Thai politics.
To get a deeper understanding into the complexity of the boundaries, Prof. Thongchai aove mentioned book is a great resource. It is important to know that before the spread of European colonialism to the area there was nothing like a demarcation line as we know the boundaries today. Instead the semi-independent city states (Mueang) at the boundary area often swore allegiance to both more powerful kings, making the countries in fact a blurred with each other in their boundary areas. This has become known under the term "Mandala" since O.W. Wolters coined the term in 1982.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vision statement of the Department of Provincial Administration

The Department of provincial administration (DOPA, กรมการปกครอง) displays a nicely designed advert banner on their website. It shows Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, the first interior minister 1892-1915 and father of the administrative subdivisions still in use today. I am not sure which building is to the left, but I suspect it's a statue in front of the Ministry of the Interior, as the same one shows on the MOI website as well. During my last vacations I did not make it to Rattanakosin island, so I could not take photos of the MOI building like I originally planned. The text defines the vision of the department:
วิสัยทัศน์กรมการปกครองVision of the department of provincial administration
เป็นองค์กรสมรรถนะสูงbe an office with high abilities
มุ่งมั่นบูรณาการงานในพื้นที่concentrate on integrating of local works
และเป็นที่พึ่งของประชาชนand be supported of the citizens
เพื่อสังคมสงบสุขto be a happy society