Friday, May 29, 2009

Muban number exchange?

When I wrote about the numerical geocodes for the administrative villages, one of the most important problem I noted was the fact that the codes are not unique in time. When a new subdistrict was created, the remaining villages got renumbered, sometimes explicitly stated in the Royal Gazette announcement, sometimes implicitly. Thus as the last new subdistrict was created in 1997, I thought at least till then the village numbers haven't changed anymore.

But by random check of websites of subdistrict (Tambon) administrative organizations, I came across one case where a renumbering did take place recently. Bang Kaeo (บางแก้ว), Ban Laem district, Phetchaburi province is subdivided into eight villages, which according to the TAO website have the following names.
หมู่ที่NameEnglish name
1บ้านบางแก้วBan Bang Kaeo
2บ้านนาแคBan Na Khae
3บ้านทำเนียบBan Tham Niap
4บ้านบนดอนBan Bon Don
5บ้านหนองแห้วBan Nong Haeo
6บ้านนาบัวBan Na Bua
7บ้านร่องใหญ่Ban Rong Yai
8บ้านเหมืองกลางBan Mueang Klang
This table is confirmed by the Excel sheet for Phetchaburi which I found some months ago.

But - looking back at the 2002 Royal Gazette announcement with which the creation of village 7 and 8 was made official, the following section is found.
แยกหมู่บ้านเหมืองกลาง หมู่ที่ ๑ ตำบลบางแก้ว จัดตั้งเป็นหมู่บ้านใหม่อีก ๑ หมู่บ้าน ชื่อหมู่บ้านบางแก้ว โดยตั้งเป็นหมู่ที่ ๘ ตำบลบางแก้ว และให้มี อาณาเขต ดังนี
Translated, this means that Ban Mueang Klang Mu 1 of Tambon Bang Kaeo is split and one new village is created named Ban Bang Kaeo Mu 8 of Tambon Bang Kaeo. This is probably no mistake in the announcement, as ThaiTambon also confirms these names.

Thus, the names of village 1 and 8 have been changed between 2002 and 2009. Either, they really exchanged the names of the two Muban, or the numbers of the Muban have been exchanged but the names still refer to the same area as they did in 2002.

Needless to say that my inquiry on this issue at the TAO was left unanswered...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Petition to create King Amphoe in Chumphon

Published in the Royal Gazette on May 22 was a petition by the member of parliament Suwaroj Palang (สุวโรช พะลัง) requesting the creation of a new minor district in his home district Tha Sae, Chumphon province.

He argues that the subdistrict Rap Ro (ตำบลรับร่อ, highlighted in the map above) is a large subdistrict, covering 23 administrative village, and is also nearly 100 kilometer from the district office and has a population exceeding 20,000 people. Also its location at the boundary to Myanmar makes its administration more difficult.

The answer by the Ministry of Interior which is included in the publication first reiterates the preconditions to create a minor district as decided by the cabinet on November 2 2004. I had listed these preconditions from 2003 earlier, the ones listed here are slightly different.
  1. no less than 25,000 people
  2. 4 subdistricts
  3. distance from old district (office) no less than 20 kilometers
  4. must receive approval from the Tambon councils or TAO councils, district officer and provincial administration
Additionally there are special cases in which these strict points can be overruled - tourism, problems with insurgency, boundary location or royal projects.

Specific to Rap Ro, the answer then states that the population is only 17,313 people (the number from the DOPA population statistics 2008), and also the distance is only 45 kilometer. Only if any of the special cases applies the province administration is invited to prepare a report and send it to the Ministry for discussion in the cabinet.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

District museum visitor numbers

I mentioned the low number of visitors to the district museums earlier, but now I have found actual numbers to illustrate it.

As the second endnote "ข้อมูล ณ เดือนตุลาคม 2548" says the visitor data is from the October 2005. The number differ quite strikingly - while Thawi Watthana and Bang Khun Thian both have about 1000 visitors, the one of Nong Chok only got 10. This is even more surprising as all three mentioned are in the extreme outskirts of the city, Thwai Watthana and Bang Khun Thian to the west and Nong Chok to the east. The one of Phra Nakhon close to the touristic centers got just 312 which still made it number 5, or Samphanthawong then still in Wat Traimit at number 8 with 260. In total the 27 museums received 6622 visitors, which means about 250 per museum, around 10 each day.

However I guess these numbers are not really usable for anything more than a rough overview. The fact that the two westernmost and remote museums received most visitors can only come from some busloads of students carried their from their schools, so the activity of the school in the district distorts the numbers for the corresponding museum. For a more meaningful statistics these visitors should be listed separately from those visitors coming out of their own initiative.

Taking into account a comment of the guide in Bangkok Yai museum that the visitor numbers went down a lot since the end of the Thaksin administration, any more recent such statistics would probably be devastating. Which is really not a fate deserved by these museums, and I really pity the guides who spend most of their time just waiting for a visitor. The only way out would be better promotion, but with the museum website offline for more than a year, and even more an email regarding these museums sent to the Bangkok tourist office getting no answer I have not much hope for any improvement.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Outgoing village and district headmen of Ko Samui

Found on National News Bureau of Thailand is the following: Local administrators from Ko Samui meet Interior Minister from May 22nd.
Chiefs of tambons and villages from Surat Thani’s Ko Samui District today paid courtesy call on Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul at the Ministry to seek extension of their tenures.

During the meeting with the tambon and village chiefs from Ko Samui Municipality whose position terms would expire on June 8, the Interior Minister instructed them that they must perform duties to the best of their abilities and produce satisfactory results. He said the local area administrators must work in compliance with government policies to bring advantages to the country.

When Asked how the Municipality Act benefited the tambon and village chiefs if it was enacted, Mr. Chavarat answered he would study the details and consider how to help them, adding the Ministry was entitled to make a decision on it according to the law.
Two things are notable on this - the first is the fact that these headmen are still in office right now, even though the upgrade of Samui to a town municipality was effective June 9 2008. As this is exactly one year before the end of tenure mentioned in the article above this means that these headmen have one year more in office than I would have expected. Apparently this one year is to be a kind of transition period in which the municipality takes over the tasks from the headmen.

The second things is that even though the law says that the headmen loose their function once a municipality is at town (mueang) or city (nakhon) level, they still try to lobby at the Interior Ministry to stay in office. It's like all the lobbying and blocking around the upgrade last year hasn't stopped after the decision was finally made.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Districts and provinces in the deep south around 1909

My post on the administrative history of Pattani has found at least one reader very interested into the topic. He has even digged out an old map dating from the time of the 1909 boundary treaty between Siam and the United Kingdom fixing the boundary the way it still is today.

Of the five points he stumbled upon in this map, I can at least answer some relatively easy with the sources available to me.
  • Tak Bai belonged to Kelantan before 1909, but as the Sungai Kolok river was chosen as the boundary line, the area of Tak Bai district stayed under Thai control. In August 1909 the creation of the district under the province Narathiwat was announced in the Royal Gazette.
  • The same Gazette announcement also includes the creation of Sadao district by merging together the subdistrict Sadao with the minor district Prink (กิ่งปริก), which was a subordinate of Nuea district (now named Hat Yai). Originally, Sadao belonged to Changlun and was part of the ''Mueang'' Saiburi, better known as Kedah. Due to the 1909 contract Changlun became Malay, while the northern part of it became Thai and thus was made the district Sadao. Strangely the history of the district in must be wrong, as that claims the district was created in 1917, and at the same time the subdistrict was renamed from Changlun to Sadao. Yet the Gazette announcement dates it to 1909, and also does not mention the name Changlun at all. As the Wikipedia article was originally based on this researched could at least fix the history in there.
  • Thepha was drawn as a separate province in that map, which must be a misunderstanding of the mapmaker. Here gives a detailled history, according to which Thepha was a forth-class Mueang and subordinate of Phatthalung in 1786, when the governor of Thepha had to present the tribute as a golden and silver tree to the governor of Phatthalung. In the reign of King Rama II it was upgraded to third-class Mueang and placed under Songkhla. But no trace of the alleged reassignment of this district from Pattani to Songkhla as it was claimed by the anonymous Wikipedia editor.
  • Also Chana was drawn separately. As the website of the district (there are only very few districts with a website, and this is a very good one) has a long history text including a list of all the past governors and district officers. This history is quite similar with Thepha, as Chana also was at first a subordinate of Phatthalung and then became reassigned to Songkhla. The town was moved around often - last location was in Pa Ching subdistricy before the district was created in the thesaphiban reforms. The first district office was in present-day Na Thawi district, but since the location was inconvenient it was moved to Ban Na, and the district was renamed to Ban Na then. While the website gives no date, the rename was announced in 1917 in the Gazette. In 1924 the name change was reverted, as there were two more districts with the same name already.
The two things I cannot answer is the fact that Perlis is shown divided into two entities, and Raman and Rangae's extent into current Perak and Kelantan respectively. The Wikipedia article on Perlis does not mention any division, but the second one I can at least suspect that it might be similar to the above mentioned case of Sadao and Tak Bai where the 1909 boundary does not follow the historical boundaries of the Mueang.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg on Prince Damrong

Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg (1851-1918) was an Austrian diplomat, who however is best known due to his many travel writings. Following a visit to Siam in 1898 he wrote the book "Siam, das Reich des weißen Elefanten" (Siam, the land of the white Elephants), an interesting read even despite lots of cultural prejudices. From the chapter on the government is following excerpt on prince Damrong, first minister of the Interior.
Als Dritter im Bunde ist Prinz Damrong zu nennen, der augenblicklich den wichtigen Posten eines Ministers des Inneren bekleidet. Damrong war lange Jahre in Europa, um das Unterrichtswesen zu studieren, und ihm war es auch vorbehalten, den Unterricht der Siamesen zu regeln und in Bangkok einige Musterschulen zu gründen, die in vieler Hinsicht vorzuglich genannt werden können. Man würde den hochgebildeten, eleganten Mann für einen Franzosen oder Engländer halten, denn weder aus seinen Gesichtszügen noch aus seinem Benehmen oder seiner ganzen Unterhaltung könnte man erraten, daß seine Wiege in Hinterindien gestanden hat. Kam ich zu ihm, dann empfing er mich mit liebenswürdiger Einfachheit, unterhielt sich in vorzüglichen Englisch über europäische Persönlichkeiten oder Verhältnisse, mit denen er so vertraut ist, als wäre er auf dem Boulevard des Italiens oder in Piccadilly aufgewachsen. Auf seinem Schreibtisch liegen die neuesten Zeitungen aus Europa, die er täglich geradeso liest wie der König. Seine Geradheit, Pünktlichkeit und Arbeitskraft scheint er auch seinem Personal eingeflößt zu haben, denn in keinem Ministerium geht es so, ich möchte sagen „europäisch” zu wie in dem seinigen.
As most of my readers don't speak German, and the machine translators like Google Translate will only make ridiculous text out of it, I am giving a rough translation myself.
As the third I have to mention prince Damrong, who currently fills the important post of a minister of Interior. Damrong stayed many years in Europe, where he studied the educational system, and it was left to him to organize the education of the Siamese people and found several exemplar schools in Bangkok, which in several ways can be called exquisite. One would think of this highly educated and elegant man to be French or English, as neither his facial features nor his manners or his way of conversation would allow to guess that he was born in Further India. When I was visiting him, he greeted me with lovingly simplicity, and chatted in exquisite English about European celebrities and circumstances, with which he was so familiar as if he grew up on the boulevard of Italy or Piccadilly. On his desk lie the latest newspaper from Europe, which he reads daily just like the King. It seems like he has infused his straightforwardness, punctuality and his labor into his personnel, as no other ministry is working in the same European style as his.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Change of area of Ko Sichang municipality

Published yesterday was a boundary change for the subdistrict municipality (Thesaban Tambon) Ko Sichang (เทศบาลตำบลเกาะสีชัง) in Chonburi province. The announcement was published in Volume 126, Issue พิเศษ 72 ง on page 47, and titled "ประกาศกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง เปลี่ยนแปลงเขตเทศบาลตำบลเกาะสีชัง อำเภอเกาะสีชัง จังหวัดชลบุร". It was signed as being ready for publication on October 30 last year already, and it was discussed in the joint meeting of board one and two on February 6 and August 27 2008. With Google translate it seems like the main point in this act is that the jurisdiction of the municipality is extended into some marine areas around the island, and not just the island itself as it was before.

One can see this most easily when comparing the maps of this announcement and the creation of the sanitary district Ko Sichang (สุขาภิบาลเกาะสีชัง) in 1957 (Gazette), which only covered the main island. This sanitary district was upgraded to a municipality in 1999, and in 2004 the area of the TAO Tha Thewawong (ท่าเทววงษ์) covering the minor islands around.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Abolishment of the first TAOs

The Tambon (subdistrict) administrative organizations (TAO) created in the 1990s were not the first TAO created - already in 1956 a total of 59 TAO were established (Gazette) and a single more in 1966 (Gazette). Strangely there are several of these TAO which I cannot connect with any of the modern subdistricts - but that'd be the topic for another posting.

One of the 59 TAO was Ratsada (รัษฎา) in Phuket. When I now checked their website again, I noticed that the history section lists the history of the first TAO as well. According to that it was abolished in 1972, and then the new TAO was created in 1994, and this became a subdistrict municipality in 2007.

As I didn't find the abolishment of the TAO in the Royal Gazette before, I read that section in more detail.
ในปี พ.ศ. 2519 องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลรัษฏาถูกยกเลิก โดยคำสั่งคณะปฏิวัติ ฉบับที่ 326/2515 ให้มีฐานะเป็นสภาตำบลเหมือนกันทั่วประเทศ
In 2519 the TAO Ratsada was canceled. Revolutionary command No. 326/2515 made it a district council like in all of country.
So it the abolishment of the TAO was one the many revolutionary commands issued by the leaders of the coup in 1972 - the creation of the Bangkok metropolis is another notable one. Yet I think the 2519 in the text must be a typo, as I doubt that the coup leaders intended to keep the TAO running another 4 years. The full text of the command can be found the Royal Gazette under the title ประกาศของคณะปฏิวัติ ฉบับที่ ๓๒๖ (with the comment added by the Gazette database มีสถานะเทียบเท่าพระราชบัญญัติ การจัดระเบียบบริหารของตำบล - equivalent to an announcement on the subdistrict administration). Eleven pages of legal text is however a bit too much for my Thai knowledge, so I don't know what other changes additionally to the abolishing of the TAO have been ordered by this command.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Local Directory 2546

Cover of Local Directory Volume 1Last year I discovered an EBook from the Department of Provincial Administration which includes a list of all the Muban as of 2003. I didn't work with that one much until now, so when I did look into it again I noticed that not only the second PDF is broken, but also the first one lacks several pages. Luckily all the pages are also available as JPG files, but since having them in a single PDF is much more handy these are not that much an alternative.

So after some searching I found the nice small software JPEG to PDF, which allows to convert one or several JPG files into a PDF. So it was easy to create the correct and complete EBook-PDFs.
  1. ทำเนียบท้องที่ พุทธศักราช ๒๕๔๖ เล่ม ๑ (Local Directory 2546 Volume 1), Krabi till Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  2. ทำเนียบท้องที่ พุทธศักราช ๒๕๔๖ เล่ม ๒ (Local Directory 2546 Volume 2), Phang Nga till Amnat Charoen
One thing I did not notice when looking at this EBook the first time is the fact that the book also lists the dates when each of the district was created as a minor district and upgraded to a full district. Especially for the very old districts this might be interesting to compare with the data I could compile from the Royal Gazette, and even more so those I could not find in the Royal Gazette.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New bishops

When I announced the appointment of a new bishop of Chiang Mai in February, I mentioned that more retirements are to be expected as another three Thai bishops are beyond the normal retirement age of 75. One already happened during my trip, and the second just last Friday.

Most notable is the retirement of Cardinal Michael Kitbunchu (ไมเกิ้ล มีชัย กิจบุญชู), Archbishop of Bangkok. Aged 80 he was not only the oldest of all bishops in Thailand, but also the oldest of all archbishops in the Catholic church. As his successor the Pope named Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanit (ฟรังซิสเซเวียร์ เกรียงศักดิ์ โกวิทวาณิช), the bishop of Nakhon Sawan. Just two years ago he was given that diocese, so he ascended to the highest post in the Thai Catholic church very fast. It also seems like Nakhon Sawan has become the way to higher posts - the predecessor of Bishop Francis Kovitvanit in Nakhon Sawan was Louis Chamniern Santisukniram, who was made archbishop of the other archdiocese in Thailand, Thare and Nonseng centered near Sakon Nakhon.

During my travel the Pope did accept another retirement and appointed the successor of Bishop Lawrence Thienchai Samanchit (ลอเรนซ์ เทียนชัย สมานจิต) of the diocese of Chanthaburi by Silvio Siripong Charatsri (ซิลวีโอ สิริพงษ์ จรัสศรี).

From the official news announcement of the Vatican
The Holy Father Benedict XVI, on April 2, 2009, accepted the renunciation of the pastoral government of the Diocese of Chanthaburi (Thailand) presented by Bishop Lawrence Thienchai Samanchit, in conformity with the Code of Canon Law, canon 401 § 1. The Holy Father appointed as Bishop of Chanthaburi (Thailand), Fr. Silvio Siripong Charatsri, Vicar General of Ratchaburi.
On the website of the diocese one can also find the announcement from the Pope as well as a biography of the new bishop in Thai.

As one can see at a special list by Catholic Hierarchy the last bishops beyond the age limit is the one of Udon Thani. Thus there will be two more such announcements in the near future - one for the new bishop of Nakhon Sawan filling the vacancy just created, and one for the forthcoming retirement in Udon Thani.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Acronym mania

Like in other cultures, Thai also like to abbreviate things and use acronyms a lot, especially with the sometime long and complicate names in the administration. But what is special is the custom to abbreviate the English translations as well, or even create only an English term and abbreviate it then.

The whole thing already starts with something simple like postal address. These consist of the name of province, district, subdistrict and village, but instead of the Thai words for these administrative levels one usually sees just the first letter. And even more, the central district named "Mueang" with the province name is shortened to just "Mueang". And even the short word Muban gets shortened to just Mu. One simple example:
จ.สุราษฎร์ธานีจังหวัดสุราษฎร์ธานีSurat Thani province
อ.เมืองอำเภอเมืองสุราษฎร์ธานีMueang Surat Thani district
ต.บางใบไม้ตำบลบางใบไม้Bang Bai Mai subdistrict
หมู่ที่ 1หมู่บ้านที่ 1Village 1
Which is the address of the Tambon (Subdistrict) administrative organization (TAO or SAO) of the subdistrict. In Thai this is abbreviated อบต., short for องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล. It's not only abbreviated in written texts, also when talking about this office it's simply O Bo To. Sometimes in the URL of websites this is also romanized as ABT.

Very similar is the abbreviation for the higher level of local administration, the Provincial administrative organization. In English it's PAO, in Thai อบจ., short for องค์การบริหารส่วนจังหวัด. Or the term to cover all the local administrative units อปท. (องค์กรปกครองส่วนท้องถิ่น).

But the acronyms even more interesting are those which come into Thai via English. The most famous one is of course OTOP for One Tambon One Product, the project to give locally produced articles a better marketing. Since to listen is the corresponding podcast of the language guy. Here an English acronym for a Thai project kind of became a word on its own in Thai now.

Another example, much less famous, is the Small Medium Large (SML) village fund project. Once one of the populist project of form prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, it was still active last year, though somewhat remodeled in the meantime. The DOPA (Department of Provincial Administration) still has the project website online. In fact, the Thai name for this project โครงการพัฒนาศักยภาพของหมู่บ้านและชุมชน (system of development possibilities of villages and communities) does not have any small, medium or large in it anymore.

For a fun-read on acronyms there's this nice satire by Matt, formerly in Thailand and now on Timor-Leste.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tambon area clarification in Sankhaburi, Chainat

Published on May 1 was the redefinition of the subdistrict boundaries in Sankhaburi district (อำเภอสรรพยา), Chainat province. The announcement includes the lists of the administrative villages within the district, however on for four of the eight subdistricts. Only the boundaries of the subdistricts east of the Makhamthao river were adjusted, i.e. Thiang Thae (เที่ยงแท้), Huai Krot (ห้วยกรด), Pho Ngam (โพงาม) and Huai Krot Phatthana (ห้วยกรดพัฒนา).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

1997 electoral changes

Another posting based on information from the book Democracy, Development and Decentralization in Provincial Thailand by Daniel Arghiros, this time the many changes in the electoral policies with the constitution of 1997. Some however have been changed again with the 2007 constitution. Though not all of these changes are directly covered by the constitution but separate laws, they are all somewhat connected.
  • The constituencies were changed to have each one winning candidate - in the past and again since 2007 constituencies had one to three winning candidates depending on their size. This move was motivated to make the member of parliament more involved with his constituency. Often the second or third candidate was much less known and often only elected because he was the running mate of the prime candidate.
  • No more vote counting in the polling station, but instead all ballot papers are collected at the constituency center and counted there. This was done to stop village headmen to be vote brokers, as now they cannot use the results of their polling station as proof of their success.
  • Introduction of the election commission (EC) to supervise election and issue the red an yellow cards to those found guilty of fraudulent actions like vote buying. For the first 10 years it was only responsible for the national election, since 2007 also for the local elections.
  • Voting became mandatory. In the past high voter turnout was result of successful vote brokers, especially in the non-local elections where the villages usually don't know much about the candidates and what they stand for.
  • The senate was recreated and for the first time became fully elected. In 2007 this was partially reverted to 76 elected and 74 appointed senators.
  • The introduction of the subdistrict administrative organizations (TAO) as new elected councils, taking over parts of the responsibilities of the provincial administrative organizations (PAO).
  • Limiting the terms of village and subdistrict headmen to five years instead of until retirement age.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

License plate graphic for Chonburi

A Royal Gazette announcement which slipped through my normal searches was published on February 18 already, giving the graphic for the special car license plates in Chonburi province (Gazette). As Rikker already pointed out in a comment on my first post on these graphics, they are only available for those who buy a special number in an auction. Car license containing auspicious numbers, single digit numbers, or those where the two Thai letters form a real word are so popular that they are auctioned and are a kind of status symbol making the luxury car look even more worthy. However so far these graphic plates seem to be very rare yet, I haven't seen a single one in my latest trip.

Not much surprisingly, the graphic for Chonburi features a beach scene, as the tourist hotspot Pattaya is located within this province.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Time from municipal decision to constituency definition

As there was no update of the transcripts of the board meetings deciding on municipal changes - the latest one is still from November 28 - I am now wondering whether the large number of upgrades of TAO to Thesaban seen in the last two years will continue this year, or due to the financial crisis the upgrades are temporarily halted. The only other source to find out about new municipalities is the Royal Gazette, however not announcements publishing the creation of the municipality but announcements on the setup of the constituencies in the new municipality.

The latest of this kind of announcements is from April 24 (Gazette), and it is on the subdistrict municipality Chan Di (เทศบาลตำบลจันดี) in Nakhon Si Thammarat, however not a newly created one, so it is only an adjustment of the constituency boundaries. In fact, there was no announcement yet on a municipality I had not yet in my list. Does this mean there were no upgrades decided upon yet?

So after some programming I could calculate the time between the board meeting and the announcement in the Royal Gazette. The mean time between the two dates is 156 days, with the shortest time period was 75 days for Sa-nga Ban (เทศบาลตำบลสง่าบ้าน) in Chiang Mai and the longest 522 days for Bang Krathuek (เทศบาลตำบลบางกระทึก) in Nakhon Pathom. So if there were any decisions not yet documented in the transcripts they might show up in the Gazette soon. But most of the decisions were in the months April to June, so it the fact that there's no announcement yet doesn't mean much for this years' upgrades.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Subdistrict name changes after 1947

The many subdistrict creations announced in 1947 include several cases where the names used in these announcement differs from the current name, but without the renaming ever announced in the Royal Gazette. A complete list of the name changes I found would be way to lengthy for the blog, so I only pick a few examples which show the different kinds of changes which happened.

The first one is the obvious one, the name changed but without explicitly mention it. For example, in Ranong the subdistrict La-un Nuea (ละอุ่นเหนือ) was split off from La-un (ละอุ่น). But additionally to this La-un was probably renamed to La-un Tai (ละอุ่นใต้), at least that is it's named now, and it makes most sense to happen together with the split. And the same happened with neighboring Bang Phra (บางพระ), where also the northern part was split off and the southern part probably got renamed simultaneously.

There are also subdistrict spellings which I suspect are simply misspellings, as the whole announcements were written by hand these might have slipped through. For example the subdistrict Krado in Yarang, Pattani, is spelled กระโด nowadays. In the 1947 announcement it is however spelled ปะโด (Pado), maybe in fact it was simple a spelling change from กะโด, only the R (ร) letter added later. One case where I have proof of the mistake is Lathai, Kanthararom, Si Sa Ket. This one is spelled both ทะลาย (Thalai) and ละทาย (Lathai) in the same announcement, so the first occurrence must have been a switching of letters. Or Khlong Khut (คลองขุด) in Mueang Satun district is spelled ลองขุด, simply omitting the first letter.

Already mentioned in the previous paragraph, in several only the spelling changed, which kept the name phonetically same or at least close. There were probably several smaller spelling reforms, not as drastic as the simplified spellings used 1942-44 but still noticeable. For example when Rahan (ระหาร) became Lahan (ละหาร) in Bang Bua Thong, Nonthaburi this was probably an adjustment of the spelling to the actual pronunciation; funnily the word Pho (โพธิ์) in Pho Talad Kaeo (โพธิ์ตลาดแก้ว) changed spelling to the simpler โพ, but in Pho Rang Nok (โพธิ์รังนก) the old name had the spelling โพรังนก. Another example where a silent letter was omitted in Kaeo Chan, which changed from เกาะจันทร์ to เกาะจัน.

In all of the above examples it is easy to match the spelling in the old announcement with the modern spelling and thus identify the subdistrict. While I believe I could correctly identify all the subdistricts mentioned in the 1947 announcements, there were a few cases where it was very difficult. In one case after the search of the 1947 subdistrict I noticed that in fact I even misidentified that one in a later announcement. In 1947 the subdistrict in Mueang Udon Thani district was named Nong Bu (หนองบุ), and it was renamed to Nong Na Kham (หนองนาคำ) after 1974. Due to the similar sound I misidentified it with Nong Bua (หนองบัว), but actually Nong Bua was split off from Nong Bu in 1947.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Province governor reshuffle again

Yesterday the cabinet approved a provincial governor reshuffle proposed by the Ministry of the Interior. The news reports only focus on the fact that Chonburi governor Suraphon Phongthatsirikun got transferred to the less prestigious province Chachoengsao as a punishment for the security failures at the ASEAN+3 and ASEAN+6 summit in Pattaya which allowed the red shirts to break into the summit hotel.

Bangkok Post writes more on the past events than the transfer, National News Bureau of Thailand mentions that the governor of Phrae is also involved in this reshuffle, and The Nation in their breaking news even has the name wrong but in the actual article they fixed it and included several more reassignments.

As listed by the Nation that more governors were reshuffled than just the ones of Chonburi and Chachoengsao. I could find the full list in the transcript of the cabinet meeting (item 10):
  1. Wirawit Wiwattanawanit (วีรวิทย์ วิวัฒนวานิช) transferred from Chachoengsao to Nan
  2. Suraphon Phongthatsirikun (สุรพล พงษ์ทัดศิริกุล) from Chonburi to Chachoengsao
  3. Seni Chittakasem (เสนีย์ จิตตเกษม) from Sisaket to Chonburi
  4. Somsak Suwansutcharit (สมศักดิ์ สุวรรณสุจริต) depart as governor of Nan
  5. Rapi Pongbupkit (ระพี ผ่องบุพกิจ) former vice-governor of Uthai Thani new governor of Sisaket
  6. Phongsak Plaiwet (พงษ์ศักดิ์ พลายเวช) transferred from governor of Phrae to a post in the Ministry of Interior
  7. Wanlop Pringpong (วัลลภ พริ้งพงษ์) from a post in MOI to become governor of Phrae

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

District museum brochures

When I visited the district museum of Bangkok Noi before, the only brochure they could give me was a small flyer which just contained the location of three further museums. So it was a big surprise that after visiting the district museum of Thawi Watthana the guide gave us a small booklet. 28 pages in A5 format, fully colored and well designed. Just the only thing bad is the fact it's only in Thai. The not only show the exhibits in the museum and repeat the explanations already seen in the museum, but also include a map and sometimes even go beyond the things on display and are more a brochure on the district than on the museum.

These brochures were the additional motivation which made me visit several more district museums, to collect as many of these brochures as possible. I only collected seven (plus one on the whole local museum project), the attempt to ask the Bangkok Tourist Office by eMail for a way to get the whole set had the same fate as most of my contact attempts. Clearly not the reaction I expected for tourist office of a country which should work hard to attract the tourists scared away by the political struggles. But if anyone else can help me to collect more of these brochure feel free to contact me...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tambon area clarification in Sapphaya, Chainat

Published on April 16 was the redefinition of the subdistrict boundaries in Sapphaya district (อำเภอสรรพยา), Chainat province. As usual for this kind of announcements, this one includes the lists of all the administrative villages within the district.
IndexName of Subdistrictชื่อตำบลMuban
3.Khao Kaeoเขาแก้ว6
4.Pho Nang Dam Tokโพนางดำตก6
5.Pho Nang Dam Okโพนางดำออก8
6.Bang Luangบางหลวง7
7.Hat Asaหาดอาษา9
So in total another 55 village names added to my XMLs.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Male/female ration in the lowest administrative levels

In the portrait of the female TAO chairman the low ratio of female officers was mentioned. I now could find a statistics which shows this quite clearly, even though it only lists the numbers for the lowest central administrative levels, the subdistrict (Tambon) and village (Muban). It not only lists the leaders of these two levels, but also the assistants.
กำนันSubdistrict headman66472744
ผู้ใหญ่บ้านVillage headman6469240426
แพทย์ประจำ ตำบลSubdistrict doctor4912135522
สารวัตรกำนันDeputy subdistrict headman1298412199
ผู้ช่วย ผู้ใหญ่บ้าน ฝ่ายปกครองDeputy village headmen (administrative)1171581965114
ผู้ช่วย ผู้ใหญ่บ้าน ฝ่ายรักษาความสงบDeputy village headmen (security)314801781
Noticeable is the fact that the ratio of females increases with the lower positions - more village headwomen than subdistrict headwomen, more female assistants than headmen. Only two numbers strike out - the subdistrict doctors with 22% and the security affairs village headman assistant with only 1%.

The table lists all the numbers for each province as well, so the overall ratio is highest for Singburi (27%), and lowest in Chiang Rai and Yala with only 2%.

I could create a similar ratio from the list of province governors and vice governors. This includes only 1 female province governor (out of 75) in Phayao and a total of 8 vice governors (out of 171), thus 1% and 4% respectively.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tambon websites with English sections

As I am often checking Google for the keyword "tambon", and thanks to the "search wiki" easily filtering out all those Wikipedia clones and hotel adverts, at about 40th position the first websites of Tambon administrative organizations (TAO) and subdistrict municipalities (thesaban tambon) show up. The current top ten (searching in English) are
  • Suthep (เทศบาลตำบลสุเทพ), Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai
  • Yang Noeng (เทศบาลตำบลยางเนิ้ง), Saraphi, Chiang Mai
  • San Klang (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลสันกลาง), San Pa Tong, Chiang Mai
  • San Pu Loei (เทศบาลตําบลสันปูเลย), Doi Saket, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Hoi Ngoen (องค์การบริหารส่วนตําบลแม่ฮ้อยเงิน), Doi Saket, Chiang Mai
  • Ban Thi (เทศบาลตำบลบ้านธิ), Ban Thi, Lamphun
  • Mae La Noi (องค์การบริหารส่วนตําบลแม่ลาน้อย), Mae La Noi, Mae Hong Son
  • Talat Yai (องค์การบริหารส่วนตําบลตลาดใหญ่), Doi Saket, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Khue (องค์การบริหารส่วนตําบลแม่คือ), Doi Saket, Chiang Mai
  • Makhun Wan (องค์การบริหารส่วนตําบลมะขุนหวาน), San Pa Tong, Chiang Mai
There are two things which are notable on this list. The first thing is quite obvious - most of these websites are within the province Chiang Mai. When looking at the websites themselves, for most the basic design is very similar, only the photos and the textual content exchanged. And the English is also quite good. As most show in the footer "Designed and developed by I suppose all these websites were created as a joint effort, all these local governments jointly hiring the web design company, who also did the translations. And good to see that at least for Chiang Mai they recognized that English text is also a valuable extension, especially for tourists who want to know more about the places they are about to visit. And of course also for me who still has a hard time reading the Thai only websites.