Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Municipal decisions for May 20 2009

Again, board one and two both decide on municipal upgrades, thus the one from May 6 wasn't an exception. Also I have to correct my initial assumption that this year won't see that many upgrades due to the four months without any board meetings. The meetings till June 8 upgrade 112 TAO already, compared to the 339 in all of 2008.

Meeting number 8 of board one from May 20 2009 with three TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities.
  • Na Charoen (เทศบาลตำบลนาเจริญ), Det Udom district, Ubon Ratchathani province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 55 km², 11 villages and 6,955 citizen.
  • Kham Khwang (เทศบาลตำบลคำขวาง), Warin Chamrap district, Ubon Ratchathani province, effective August 1 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 35.90 km², 10 villages and 7,262 citizen.
  • Mueang Si Khai1 (เทศบาลตำบลเมืองศรีไค), Warin Chamrap district, Ubon Ratchathani province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 37.96 km², 11 villages and 10,374 citizen.
Meeting number 8 of board two from May 20 2009 with five TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities.
  • Muen Si (เทศบาลตำบลหมื่นศรี), Samrong Thap district, Surin province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 47.41 km², 9 villages and 5,674 citizen.
  • Non Khong (เทศบาลตำบลโนนฆ้อง), Ban Fang district, Khon Kaen province, effective July 30 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 46 km², 10 villages and 6,065 citizen.
  • Ban Du (เทศบาลตำบลบ้านดู่), At Samat district, Roi Et province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 43.10 km², 11 villages and 5,631 citizen.
  • Prang Mu (เทศบาลตำบลปรางหมู่), Mueang Phatthalung district, Phatthalung province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 22.95 km², 9 villages and 4,841 citizen.
  • Huai Yang (เทศบาลตำบลห้วยยาง), Khon San district, Chaiyaphum province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 84.50 km², 19 villages and 14,984 citizen.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Village headman election procedures

In the 1960s the village headmen elections were done in a quite different way than what is usual in democratic elections nowadays.
[...] At the election itself, Ban Ping villagers approach the official one by one and whisper their vote for him to record. Young men and even women are permitted to vote and commonly do although they, like most villagers, suspect that the form of voting permits the official to announce the election of whichever candidate he prefers for the office.
from ''A Thai Village Headman as a Synaptic Leader'' by Michael Moerman
It's of course obvious that with this election method there is no way to check if the official counts correctly or distorts the numbers so his preferred candidate will be the winner.

In the 1990s the voting still wasn't completely secret:
[...] When the hall was full, the deputy district chief asked villagers which method of polling they wanted. They were given the choice to vote by either show hand or by secret ballot. This initial choice was to be made by a display of hands. One of Kamnan Chang's assistants immediately voted for open polling. Other villagers followed his example. He later explaned to me he had done this because he knew nobody would dare publicly to oppose Han. [...]
Democracy, Development and Decentralization in Provincial Thailand by Daniel Arghiros
I don't know if this acclamation way of election is still possible by law. It must be well known to those in power that this election method is easy to be abused like in the example observed above, so the only way to have a fair election is to do secret balloting.

Friday, June 26, 2009

DOLA local administrative entities database

Some months ago I discovered a Excel sheet with numeric codes for the local government units - PAO, TAO and municipalities (thesaban). I did not discover the reason for creating these codes or any uses of them back then.

Now while I was added several weblinks into the XML, mostly for TAO websites, I noticed a strange link on the website of Don Kha (ตำบลดอนคา), pointing to the website of the Department of Local Administration (DOLA). The numeric code in the URL made me curious and I faintly remembered that Excel sheet.

And - it turned out this link pointed directly into a database of the local government units, and the numeric code is used to identify the correct entry. Out of the many items which are stored in the database, those which are most interesting to my needs are on the first page, i.e. the URL of the website, the postal address, the name and end of term of the chairman (or mayor), area and population. The other pages are on infrastructure, economy, temples and schools, public health, disaster prevention, environment and taxation.

Just sad that apparently the webpage is the only way to access the data, getting the data directly in XML form would be perfect to do more processing. I'm tempted to write a parser to convert the HTML into such a XML myself and then being able to leech all the data, but right now I am way to busy with other things.

Now I know that these codes are actually used I have started to add them into my spreadsheet (by the way, for those not able to open the OpenOffice file, there's also a less-frequenty updated Excel version), and will write up more a more detailed analysis of these codes once finished.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Municipal decisions for May 14 2009

Meeting number 7 from May 14 2009 with six TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities.
  • Mae Suk (เทศบาลตำบลแม่สุก), Chae Hom district, Lampang province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 126 km², 12 villages and 7,306 citizen.
  • Muang Mai (เทศบาลตำบลเมืองมาย), Chae Hom district, Lampang province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1994, covers 175 km², 6 villages and 3,351 citizen.
  • Bung Malaeng (เทศบาลตำบลบุ่งมะแลง), Sawang Wirawong district, Ubon Ratchathani province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 45 km², 13 villages and 6,908 citizen.
  • Kham Khuean Kaeo (เทศบาลตำบลคำเขื่อนแก้ว), Sirinhorn district, Ubon Ratchathani province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 163.80 km², 16 villages and 8,803 citizen.
  • Pak Kang (เทศบาลตำบลปากกาง), Long district, Phrae province, effective August 1 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 29.70 km², 9 villages and 4,277 citizen.
  • Hua Thung (เทศบาลตำบลหัวทุ่ง), Long district, Phrae province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 29.70 km², 9 villages and 4,277 citizen.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Surat Thani PAO chairman by-elections on July 26

Last week the newspaper Samui Express reported that the yellow card for PAO chairman Thani Thaugsuban (ธานี เทือกสุบรรณ, see his election poster) and the red card for PAO councilor Surinya Yuennan (สุริญญา ยืนนาน) from Ko Samui was confirmed by the Appeals Court Region 8 (ศาลอุทธรณ์ภาค ๘), so the by-elections for both posts are now imminent.

While I cannot find the actual date of the court decision, on the Thai news website SuratNews.com I could find many more details on these forthcoming elections. Apparently the Election Committee (EC) had, in anticipation of the court decision, already fixed the date for the election to July 26, and has set the candidate registration to June 15-19. Thus now it is already clear who will run for the post of the new chairman, and two of them already run for the last election.
  • Damrong Thaugsuban (ดำรงค์ เทือกสุบรรณ), currently PAO councilor for Tha Chana and cousin of Thani Thaugsuban. He has to resign his councilor seat to run for the chairman position, thus Tha Chana will also see a by-election, which is expected to be on July 26 as well. Also, as he is president of the council, a new president has to be elected within 15 days.
  • Prawit Ninwatromni (ประวิช นิลวัชรมณี), former mayor of Surat Thani city, Member of Parliament for the Democratic Party as well as Senator
  • Montri Phetchakhum (มนตรี เพชรขุ้ม), with 31% the second of the last election. It was him who filed the complaint which led to the by-election. See his election poster from last time to the right.
As all three showed at the opening of the registration period and could not agree on their candidate numbers themselves, the numbers had to be drawn, giving them the above order. For the vacant councilor for of Samui the following candidates have registered.
  • Suwapat Somwang (สุวพัฒน์ สมหวัง), former councilor in the municipal council of Ko Samui.
  • Chairin Chansa (เจริญ จันทรา)
Candidate registration for the now also vacant Tha Chana district will be held June 22-26. Though Thani Thaugsuban was eligible to run again as he only got a yellow card, he apparently chose to let his cousin run instead. As I am not in Thailand for the election this time I cannot collect photos of the election posters like last time, maybe a reader on location could help me to decorate the posting on the election result then. I just hope the PAO website will show the detailed results again like it did last time.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Municipal decisions for May 13 2009

Meeting number 6 from May 13 2009 with five TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities.
  • Tha Sida (เทศบาลตำบลท่าสีดา), Nong Phok district, Roi Et province, effective on the day of announcement. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 41.46 km², 11 villages and 5,955 citizen.
  • Ko Kaeo (เทศบาลตำบลเกาะแก้ว), Selaphum district, Roi Et province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 54 km², 14 villages and 7,507 citizen.
  • Ban Mo (เทศบาลตำบลบ้านหม้อ), Phichai district, Uttaradit province, effective June 1 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 55.01 km², 8 villages and 5,922 citizen.
  • Hua Dong (เทศบาลตำบลหัวดง), Na Dun district, Maha Sarakham province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 29 km², 15 villages and 4,917 citizen.
  • Na Thom (เทศบาลตำบลนาท่อม), Mueang Phatthalung district, Phatthalung province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 13.44 km², 8 villages and 4,425 citizen.
Also, some area from the TAO Thung Hua Chang (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลทุ่งหัวช้าง) will be reassigned to the subdistrict municipality Thung Hua Chang (เทศบาลตำบลทุ่งหัวช้าง), Thung Hua Chang district, Lamphun province.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Special administrative area for the Muslim provinces

Last week the special administrative zone for the troubled southern Muslim provinces made another resurfacing. The last time it was suggested in beginning of 2008 it was quickly shelved again since it was only the interior minister thinking aloud without clearing with prime minister Samak beforehand.

Now prime minister Abhisit brought this proposal back into discussion, though that news article actually does not say what is meant by special administration. Only a self-rule is ruled out, something which is successfully done in Europe, for example in South Tyrol, the part of northern Italy with a German language majority. There are some parallels with the history of the Pattani area - the area came to Italy despite stronger ties with neighboring Austria, there also was a strong nationalistic trying to suppress the German heritage, followed by separatism terrorism, and since the regional autonomy in 1971 the area became quiet. But of course such a regional autonomy is halfway to a full secession, something no Thai politician could accept, remember the ongoing Preah Vihar issue on just a few square kilometer.

Sanitsuda Ekachai, Assistant Editor at the Bangkok Post, wrote in her opinion column The South: Consult the locals first that it is most important to consult the people in the troubled provinces first before creating yet another new scheme to solve the problems from far-away Bangkok. I'd think for most of the Muslim the important thing is to have their culture respected - things like the suppression of the native Jawi language is something which must be stopped for sure. But this is nothing which depends on the administrative structure, so maybe elected provincial governors are something which could be meant by the proposal.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg on the thesaphiban reforms

Another excerpt from the book "Siam, das Reich des weißen Elefanten", on the administrative changes known as the thesaphiban reforms. The illustrations are from the same book, titled "Typen Siamesischer Würdenträger" (types of siamese dignitaries).
Das hat sich im letzten Jahrzehnt ganz erheblich geändert. Der König sah ein, daß er seine Tributstaaten viel enger unter seine Zentralgewalt bringe müsse, sollten sie nicht durch den losen Zusammenhang mit Siam eine Beute der habgierigen Nachbarmächte England und Frankreich werden. Deshalb gab er den bisher ziemlich unabhängigen kleinen Fürsten nach englischem Vorbilde Residenten bei, die den Titel königliche Kommissare führen und zu denen er eine Abzahl seiner Brüder und anderer Verwandten ernannte. Durch ihre hohe Stellung, ihre Beziehungen zum Königshause und die Militärmacht, die ihnen beigegeben wurde, üben diese königlichen Kommissare in den Provinzen und Tributstaaten höhere Macht aus als die Fürsten selbst. Diesen wurde wohl die Lokalregierung und die Erhebung von Steuern für die lokalen Bedürfnisse belassen, aber alle Ueberschüsse werden an die Zentralkassen in Bangkok abgeliefert, und die wichtigeren Angelegenheiten in den kleinen Fürstentümern unterliegen nunmehr der Begutachtung der Kommissare.

And again my English translation of this text

This has changed a lot in the past decade. The king realized that he had to bring the tributary stated closer under the central power to avoid them to become the prey of the greedy neighboring powers England and France due to the loose binding. Thus he followed the english system and placed residents next to the previously quite independent minor sovereigns. As Royal Commissioner he name several of his brothers and other relatives. By their high status, their relationships with the royal household and the military these royal commissioners in the provinces and tributary states have more power than the sovereigns. Those could keep the local government and the taxation for local purposes, but all surplus money has to be sent to the central cash offices in Bangkok, and all important issues in the small principalities must be appraised by the commissioners.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Municipal decisions for May 6 2009

On May 6 there were two board meetings, both dealing with municipality upgrades. In morning it was a board one which was continued in afternoon by board two. Normally only the board two deals with the municipality upgrades and similar decisions.

Meeting number 5 of board one from May 6 2009 with three TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities.
  • Huai Tuekchu (เทศบาลตำบลห้วยตึ๊กชู), Phu Sing district, Sisaket province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 123 km², 18 villages and 11,306 citizen.
  • Samrong (เทศบาลตำบลสำโรง), Samrong district, Ubon Ratchathani province, effective August 1 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 38 km², 12 villages and 7,258 citizen.
  • Bueng Charoen (เทศบาลตำบลบึงเจริญ), Ban Kruat district, Buriram province, effective August 1 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 64.07 km², 13 villages and 6,603 citizen.

Meeting number 4 of board two from May 6 2009 with five TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities.
I am not sure which date is actually meant by "และประสงค์จัดตั้งเป็นเทศบาลตำบล ตั้งแต่วันประกาศเป็นต้นไป" - is it the date of the meeting, the one when the announcement will be published in the Royal Gazette, or announced internally by the Ministry of Interior? All of the above TAO councils have their term end on July 30 2009.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Number of subdistrict creations per year

The chart shows the number of subdistricts created in each year - in fact in contrast to my previous subdistrict statistics it's the date when the creation took effect, not the date when it was published, but for most cases this does not make much difference.

Quite notable is the low number in the 1950s, with some years skipping creations altogether. Since 1960 the number slowly rose from 30 to 100 in 1980. Since then it was rather stable at 100 new subdistricts each year, until the creations ceased altogether after 1997.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Municipal decisions for April 29 2009

Meeting number 2 from April 29 2009 with six TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities.
  • Bo Kaeo (เทศบาลตำบลบ่อแก้ว), Samoeng district, Chiang Mai province, effective July 30 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 186 km², 10 villages and 7,275 citizen.
  • Thung Phueng (เทศบาลตำบลทุ่งผึ้ง), Chae Hom district, Lampang province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 193 km², 6 villages and 4,080 citizen.
  • Si Wichai (เทศบาลตำบลศรีวิชัย), Li district, Lamphun province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 184 km², 13 villages and 7,767 citizen.
  • Dong Dam (เทศบาลตำบลดงดำ), Li district, Lamphun province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 87.5 km², 6 villages and 3,093 citizen.
  • I Ngong (เทศบาลตำบลอีง่อง), Chaturaphak Phiman district, Roi Et province, effective April 29 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 44.29 km², 9 villages and 4,265 citizen.
  • Sap Si Thong (เทศบาลตำบลซับสีทอง), Mueang Chaiyaphum district, Chaiyaphum province, effective July 31 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 51.04 km², 13 villages and 5,587 citizen.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How amphoe.com was started

amphoe.com is one of the very good sources on information of the districts in Thailand, though in some cases there are smaller flaws in the details. Searching through the archived news reports of the National News Bureau of Thailand I now found a small reference on how the information on the website came into being.

Sheriffs have been ordered to update information on district websites nationwide from February 18 2005 reveals that it were the district officers (here strangely translated as sheriffs) who were ordered to provide the data to include on the website. This also explains the fact that the quality and details of the entries differ significantly, as some officers just did the necessary while others showed a lot of initiative.

It also shows that the website is in fact a project by the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA), and that only one year passed after the deadline of the above request till the Wikipedia project on the districts got pace based on this contents.

Friday, June 12, 2009

District boundary signs

Bangkok is one of the few part of Thailand where the district boundaries are located within densely populated areas - only that in Bangkok the districts are called Khet and not Amphoe like in the other provinces. The city has erected at the larger streets at the district boundaries, thus these signs are a common sight in Bangkok.

The one I choose for showing here is located directly under Memorial Bridge and marks the boundary between Thonburi and Khlong San, both old and central districts of the former city and province of Thonburi.

These signs are of course only found in the city of Bangkok, however while driving from Surat Thani to Bangkok I had seen several small white signs when entering a new district. But since they were all in the middle of nowhere and we were driving to fast I cannot show any such photo here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Corrupt local administrative officials

Last week in Bangkok Post a study funded by the National Anti-Corruption Commission was reported, which listed the police as the most corrupt state agency. But related to the topic of this blog, also some of the local administration units show among those agencies most often encountered in corrupt practices. The study was made public at the Conference on Evidence-Based Anti-Corruption Policy, which took place June 5 and 6. Sadly that website does not have the specific paper or at least the abstract available online.
The top five state agencies and officers that businessmen had to pay "extra money" to during the past five months of this year were the Land Department (72.22%), followed by tambon administration organisations (68.52%), provincial administration organisations (60.52%), highways and traffic police (59.08%), and local politicians and influential figures (44.76%).

State agencies where most respondents said they experienced graft include the Customs Department (12.2%) followed by tambon administration organisations (7.8%), and the Land Department (4.8%).
Interestingly only TAO and PAO (bolded by me in the citation above) show high in this list, while the municipalities as further local administration bodies aren't listed. Also, none of the central administrative bodies are on the list either, but that may simply be due to the fact that these don't have as much budget and influence anymore due to the decentralization.

BTW: After writing this posting, I now noticed BangkokPundit was little faster and posted on the same issue already.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Etymology of the word Isan

In a footnote to the paper The Isan up to its integration into the Siamese state (in: Regions and National Integration in Thailand, 1892-1992) by Volker Grabowsky the author gives the etymology and history of the term Isan (อีสาน) for the northeastern part of Thailand.
"Isan" derives from the Pāli word for "northeast". The term "Isan" has been introduced by the Siamese government in 1900 to replace the old ethnic name for the administrative circle Monthon Lao Khao (capital: Ubon Ratchathani). Twelve years later, in 1912, Monthon Isan was divided up into the circles (monthon) of Roi-et and Ubon Ratchathani. At that time the term "Isan" was being transformed from a narrow administrative designation to a more general geographic term. Since c.1922 the so-called Northeastern region (phak isan) became a widely accepted designation for the whole of the Khorat plateau, comprising the territories of the former monthon of Isan (Roi-et, Ubon Ratchathani), Udon and Khorat. [...]
In the map to the right I have marked the administrative circles (monthon, มณฑล) of the northeast in their layout of 1915. The two circles which made up the circle Isan until 1912 are the blue and pink to the southeast, encircled in red.

The split of the circle was announced in the Royal Gazette in April 1912, with Isan then still spelled อิสาน with a short I (instead of the long I it has today). And that spelling is consistent in all the announcements of that time, so the word Isan really changed spelling.

An interesting further reading is a blog posting on Isan’s Holy Men and Holy Waters.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Municipal decisions for April 23 2009

Finally the board meeting transcripts have received an update, as previously the latest files were those the meetings of last November. But like I anticipated from the lack of announcements in the Royal Gazette on the changed constituencies, there were much less meetings and decisions this year, the first one of board number 2 dated from April 23.

Meeting number 1 from April 23 2009 with three TAO upgraded to subdistrict municipalities.
  • Muang Tia (เทศบาลตำบลม่วงเตี้ย), Wiset Chai Chan district, Ang Thong province, effective July 30 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 26.93 km², 12 villages and 5,927 citizen.
  • Thung Pho (เทศบาลตำบลทุ่งโพธิ์), Taphan Hin district, Phichit province, effective July 30 2009. The TAO was created in 1997, covers 28.32 km², 7 villages and 2,072 citizen.
  • Tan Diao (เทศบาลตำบลตาลเดี่ยว), Lom Sak district, Phetchabun province, effective July 30 2009. The TAO was created in 1996, covers 10.20 km², 11 villages and 5,969 citizen.
Also, a name change and upgrade of the subdistrict municipality Sai Khao (เทศบาลตำบลทรายขาว) - according to that proposal it is to be renamed to Soi Khao (สอยดาว) and upgraded to a town municipality (thesaban mueang). As far as I can read it, there is no final decision on this issue yet,at least not in this meeting.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Websites left unattended

Just few weeks ago my computer was infected with the Gumblar troyan, which I only noticed because it led me to strange website when clicking a link returned from a Google search. And that even though I use FireFox and has a virus scanner running, and that one even failed to removed it, which I finally could do by fixing the registry manually. Why do I mention it here - because I am very sure it must have been one of the TAO websites I had been checking out recently.

While I don't know which of the websites was the culprit, in Google search results relatively often on sees warning lines saying "This site may harm your computer", like in the (somewhat doctored) screenshot above. In that case, the website of TAO Yuan (หย่วน), Chiang Kham district, Phayao province is compromised, and will probably try to install malware. While this can happen quite easy as always new security holes show up, I have the impression that Thai websites are quite often affected. amphoe.com was compromised twice already, just right now even the website of the Thai cabinet is installing malware.

But since I mostly check TAO and municipality websites I rather often notice this warning in Google. Adding the non-responsiveness of the email addresses at these websites, and even partially broken websites with 404 internal links, it seems to me like many of these websites are set up once by a contracted web company and then never taken care anymore - thus noone ever notices if anything gets wrong. And even clearer sign in this direction are the forums quite often present in such websites, for example the one of Huai Phai (ห้วยไผ่) in Mueang Ratchaburi district which only contains topics like "asian teen lesbian group sex" or "teen sex boy chat page". I doubt of the 6500 citizen there'll ever be enough online to have a real forum discussion going there, but probably the forum was part of the standard web package so they just added it.

Or like several TAO websites hosted by ob.tc which all only show an error message, for example Takhian (ตะเคียน), Dan Khun Thot district, Nakhon Ratchasima.

And while I am in rant mode I should also mention that Thai websites seem to change their domain name every two years, maybe because they simply forget to renew the name registration and once they notice it is already in the hand of a domain grabber. The PAO of Surat Thani was previously at www.suratpao.com and www.suratpao.org, and now they are at the (actually much more fitting) domain name suratpao.go.th.

Given all the broken websites, it is a good thing that Si Sunthon (ศรีสุนทร) on Phuket has some redundancy - they have two websites in different designs online at the same time, one at phuketsrisunthon.org and one at srisunthon.go.th.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Administrative villages in Bangkok

On the way towards the district office of Thawi Watthana I noticed an interesting sign, which on the return way I identified as the sign identifying the office of the village headman of village 5 of Sala Thammasop, Thawi Watthana. Which was a surprise in two ways. At first I did not expect to find an actual office for the headmen, as most of the tasks of the headmen are just communicating administrative decisions from the higher level authorities to the villagers. As the building does not look like a office building, I think it is more like a home-office within the residence of the headman.

But what is much more surprising is the fact that there is such a office in Bangkok. Since 1971 Bangkok is a special administrative entity created by merging the provinces Phra Nakhon and Thonburi together with the municipalities within these into a structure which is both central and local administration. Though the outlying areas are still rather rural, I did not expect administrative villages (Muban) there anymore. It was already a surprise when I read in a newspaper article in The Nation in 2005 that the village headmen in the outlying districts are to be removed from office, so in fact the villages were not abolished in the creation of Bangkok metropolis.

I don't know what is correct - was that news report was prematurely and the village headmen remain in office in 2009, or did this headman keep the sign out of protest against this decision, or is he not a headman in the normal sense, but one of the community leaders mentioned in the newspaper article as the last lines.
All 279 of the kamnans and headmen and those previously dismissed may be appointed community leaders if they so desire.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Surat Thani PAO chairman by-elections

I wrote about it in February that the chairman of the Surat Thani provincial administrative organization (PAO) Thani Thaugsuban (นายธานี เทือกสุบรรณ) was forced to step down after receiving a yellow card for irregularities in his election campaign. Since then it was quiet about the issue, so I already wondered if I might have missed the elections altogether, but now I can found a news release titled EC will not postpone by-election in Surat Thani by the National News Bureau of Thailand. This confirms that the yellow card was confirmed, and the by-election will take place within 45 days after the court finally issues the verdict, but there is no date fixed yet.
The Election Commission (EC) rejects a request for a delay to a by-election in Surat Thani province and will arrange the election within 45 days after a court issued an order to organize the election.

Election Commissioner Sodsri Sattayatham said that the commission's weekly meeting today focused on the request filed by former executive of the Surat Thani Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) Thanee Thaugsuban, a brother of Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban. Ms. Sodsri said the court had upheld the EC's decision to yellow card Mr. Thanee in the last Surat Thani PAO's election and the EC would hold the by-election within 45 days as there were no viable reasons for the delay to the election. However, Ms. Sodsri said the commission had yet to set a date for the election.

Ms. Sodsri remarked that the court's verdict was final and could not be revoked.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


As the term Tambon (Subdistrict) Administrative Organization is quite lengthy, it has become usual to refer to these by the acronym. However, two versions for the acronym are equally commonly used - either TAO or SAO depending on whether one translates the word Tambon or not. Even in scientific papers one can find both versions, and though it might be selection effect or a just a delusion it seems to me that so far the acronym TAO is the more common one. Which is of course the reason why I use that one here as well as in the Wikipedia articles. It is also in line with the well-known acronym OTOP, where the word Tambon is also used untranslated in the English acronym.

However it now seems to me that SAO will become the preferred acronym, though I haven't found it anywhere on the websites of DOPA or similar authorities as the official recommended acronym. The reason why I believe this comes from the fact that I recently have seen the first highway sign pointing towards a TAO office. Especially the green signs now always use the RTGS transcription standard, so I tend to believe if they write SAO on such a sign it should be the standard English term as well. Sadly I cannot give a photo of that sign as I only noticed it when looking out of the driving car, but it was somewhere near Bang Bua Thong on highway 9, the circle highway around Bangkok.

In Thai this is of course no problem - องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล is also a long word but it always abbreviated as อบต (O Bo To).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Samut Prakan government center planned

Richard Barrow, probably the most active English blogger, webmaster, forum operator for Thai topics started an interested new thread in his forum at thailandqa.com. Following the local news of his home Samut Prakan he writes about a planned new government center for the province. I several provinces the government offices are located close to each other - for example the one in Saraburi I wrote about last year. In Samut Prakan the city hall and district office are located close to each other in downtown, yet as Richard claims they are spread out over the city these must mean the other offices like the land office.

The Thai source for this is from a website on the BTS Skytrain extension into Samut Prakan, where the mass transit project is listed coupled with the move of the government offices. If I understand that short text correctly, the study will be finished within the next one to two years, and then developed in the following ten years.

The only illustration is a rendered view of the new province hall, and a map of the central part of the complex, containing the district office (bottom right), the PAO office (middle right) and the province hall (upper middle). The buildings left and right to it are an auditorium and a cultural center. Another very low scale map shows this is only the central part, so the other offices to be moved here will be located around. The forum will probably be the first place where one can find any news in English on this project.

To further illustrate I have created a Google Maps, showing the locations of those offices I know or found on maps like this and the location of this new site. Additions or corrections to that map are of course welcome - I haven't made it into Samut Prakan town yet to check out the current locations of the offices.

View Samut Prakan administration in a larger map

Monday, June 1, 2009

Appointed village and subdistrict headmen

Browsing through all the old news reports from the National News Bureau of Thailand can dig out quite some gems. With the help of Google I have found an aborted attempt to stop the elections of subdistrict and village headmen and make then instead appointed. There are five new reports on this topic.
The changes planned by this proposal was that the headmen will have their term extended from 5 to 10 years, and stop them from being local politician campaigning for their election. Instead they were to be selected by a committee consisting of government officials, representatives from the village, and "qualified persons". The final word on the appointment was to be given to the district officer (nai amphoe). Also mentioned but actually no change is the mandatory retirement age of 60 years.

However one week later the bill was revoked to "settle a misunderstanding" first. But as far as I know it hasn't shown up again, these short news clippings were the first and only time I have heard about this plan.