Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rename of Muban in Tak

Another administrative village name change was approved meeting 3/2010 on August 10 of the board to consider name changes and now published in the Royal Gazette. This time, village 13 of Mae Tuen subdistrict, Mae Ramat district, Tak province was renamed from Ban Thiwa Boeitha (บ้านทีวะเบยทะ) to Ban Loe To (บ้านเลอตอ).

The administrative village was just created in 2004 [Gazette] by splitting it from village 10 Ban Huai Pong (บ้านห้วยโป่ง). Apparently the name chosen then was not much liked by the villages, because if I read the announcement right the change was requested by the population.

Also interesting to note - in the announcement on the creation, the coordinates for the boundary are all wrong. Instead of e.g. MU 353065 it should read MV 353065 - the original coordinates are all in Myanmar already. I only noticed that because I wanted to add the location to this posting, and thus the official coordinates would have been the easiest way to find out where the village is actually located.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Municipality administration in 1950

A very interesting quote from the book Public Administration in Siam by W.D. Reeve, first published in 1951.
All this is, on paper, an imposing organization. In practice, it cannot be said that local self-government has been a marked success. The Assemblies are far too large and unwieldy; a Commune Assembly has not less than nine members and a City Assembly thirty-six or more. The Assemblymen, untrained in debate and inexperienced in public work of this nature, are often incompetent or worse. The electorate is apathetic; usually less than five per cent trouble to record their votes. The Councillors and executive employees of the municipality are often inefficient, and not infrequent corrupt. The locally-collected revenues are quite inadequate to cover expenditure, and large loans and grants have to be made by the central Government.

The Government has not failed to realize this rather sorry state of affairs; though for political reasons - especially because many of the municipal councillors are also prominent politicians with a following - the Government cannot abolish local self-government altogether. An expert committee was recently set up to examine the whole system and to suggest any necessary reforms. This Committee has now made its report and has prepared a draft Act which would thoroughly reorganize the whole machinery. In particular it has been proposed to place the management of each municipality under a trained administrator (a sort of city manager as employed in cities in the United States), to inaugurate a more efficient system of regular audit of accounts, and drastically to reduce the size of Assemblies. It is believed that this draft act has been under the consideration of the Council of Ministers and has been recently been discussed in parliament.
The act which is referenced here is most likely the Thesaban Act of 1953 (พระราชบัญญัติเทศบาล พ.ศ. ๒๔๙๖), which was not just an amendment of the 1939 Thesaban act but a whole new law. My Thai is not good enough to read 36 pages of law text, let alone find the differences between the earlier one and this one, but what I can note are the differences between the current municipal administration and the aspects mentioned above. The size of the Assemblies has been reduced either with that law or with a later amendment, as today there are between 12 (subdistrict municipalities) and 24 (city municipalities) assemblymen, compared to the 36 or more mentioned above. I only know about the hired city manager as a concept used in the special administrative area of Pattaya, the mayors of the normal municipalities were either elected by the assembly and more recently directly elected by the voters. But I have no idea if in the 1950s there were hired managers as well, or if this was only under discussion and not made it into the law.

Another thing which has changed in the last 60 years is the funding, at least with the decentralization in the 1990s the funding has much improved, and as one can see by the often very representative municipality administration buildings at least some have ample money to spend. Also the voter turnout has improved, though I don't know if this is due to an increased interest in the local administration or the fact that voting is now mandatory, nowadays the turnout is usually above 50%, at least for those cases where I have found the detailed local election results. On qualifications of the assemblymen today I cannot comment as I simply don't know well enough about it, but doubt it is same bad as 60 years ago.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bueng Kan set for voting in parliament

Shortly after I discovered the draft law on the parliament website, the law to create the new province Bueng Kan was first discussed in parliament Thursday last week. However, as not that many MPs were still present in the evening, the speaker of the house moved the actual voting on the act to today. Sadly I will be disconnected from web till Sunday, so I cannot report the result directly.

Though totally ignored by the English press, in Thai it had quite a lot of reports on the proceeding of the legislation. On Thai blog posting which summarizes the open issues quite well - at least as far as I can understand it with the help of Google Translate.

First, the draft law said that Nong Khai constituency 2 will become the constituency of the new province Bueng Kan, which would mean that no by-election in the two constituencies is necessary. However, as one can find in the 2007 constituency definition (Page 27, Item 53), this constituency includes the district Fao Rai, which will not be included into Bueng Kan province. Therefore, to be exact the 50,000 citizen of Fao Rai may require an by-election - even though the parliament might get dissolved early next year anyway.

The other issue is with the senate, which consists of 150 senators, 76 of them elected in the provinces and the remainder being appointed. Now with the increase of number of provinces, will the number of senators be increased to 151, or will one of the appointed senators be forced to resign? The official translation of the constitution however makes it clear that there is no problem right now:
Section 111: The Senate shall consist of one hundred and fifty members to be elected from each province, one member being elected from each province, and to be selected in the number equivalent to the total number hitherto stated deducted by the number of elected senators. In the case of an increase or decrease of the number of provinces during the term of office of elected senators, the Senate shall consist of the remaining senators.
Thus, the senator elected from Nong Khai will remain in office until the end of term of the senate, and only then the there will be 77 elected senators. It will only become tricky if the Nong Khai senator Khajon Saiyawat (ขจร สัยวัตร) resigns or dies, as this case seems to be omitted from the constitution. Only sensible answer would be to hold a by-election in both Nong Khai and Bueng Kan together, as if the split of province hasn't taken place.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Municipal boundary changes announced

On November 8, two area changes of municipalities were announced in the Royal Gazette.

Already approved by the board meeting on July 21, 2009, some area of the TAO Bueng Khong Long (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบึงโขงหลง) gets transferred to the subdistrict municipality Bueng Khong Long เทศบาลตำบลบึงโขงหลง. As usual the announcement on the TAO [Gazette] does not include a map, whereas one can compare the map in the announcement on the municipality [Gazette] with the an earlier one from the creation of the sanitary district Bueng Khong Long in 1993 [Gazette] - which shows a really strange boundary leaving some of the central urban area out of the municipality.

The other one was about the boundary of San Phranet (เทศบาลตำบลสันพระเนตร) [Gazette] with
San Na Meng (เทศบาลตำบลสันนาเม็ง) [Gazette]. As there is no announcement found in the Royal Gazette on the creation of these municipalities - they were upgraded from TAO status in 2008, thus two of the hundreds of missing announcements - the only thing one can read from the map in the two announcements this time is the location of the municipality office...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Constitutional amendments

Yesterday and today both the Senate and the House of Representatives have discussed several proposed amendments to the 2007 constitution. At the time of writing this posting I don't know yet any details on if and which of the amendments will get added to the constitution, most of the news articles are rather skeptical any of these amendments will make it. Out of the proposed amendments, the ones on the election system for the House of Representatives are the ones which fit within the scope of this blog. I had mentioned one major item already when it was first proposed by the constitutional reform panel - the return to the single seat constituencies introduced with the 1997 constitution.

The relevant articles of the constitution are 93 to 98, which right now call for 480 MPs - 400 from constituencies with up to three seats, and 80 party list MPs elected in eight regions with 10 MPs each. The proposal made by the government would change this to 500 MPs - 375 from a single seat constituencies and 125 from a single nationwide party list.

As since I posted on those changes last time I had finished reading the book "Myths and Realities: The Democratization of Thai Politics" I have now much more background on the rationale for introducing the single-seated constituencies it first place. The main idea was to strengthen the role of political parties, which traditionally are nothing but a loose grouping of individual politicians, who easily switch their party alliance whenever they see a political (or even monetary) gain from it. The multi seat constituencies are thought to support the factionalism, as each group of contenders running under the same party label in one constituency easily form the basis of a faction with one leader and two followers who strongly depend on their leader and thus support him after they are elected. However, in a single-seat constituency each candidate would be on his own, and thus would be more a party member than a faction member. Well, that was the theory, but during Thaksins terms there still were many factions within his Thai Rak Thai party, mostly held together by his money, the prospect of political power, but also because changing parties shortly before new elections was made more difficult.

But as these factions were existing since the end of the absolute monarchy, sometimes as factions with in parliament, sometimes as factions within cabinet, and the 1997 constitution didn't really change much on it, I have no hope the return to single-seat constituencies or the increase of number of party list MPs will have any significant effect now. Maybe the proposal made by Michael H. Nelson in 2007 of using the election system from Germany would change more - half of the MPs in Germany are direct candidates from constituencies to have the close relationship between electorate and candidate, yet the number of seat of each party in parliament only depends on the party list votes, with party list MPs filling up the seats available for each party not yet covered by direct candidates. But I doubt that the Thai parties are ready for such a change, as they would need a real program of policies prior to the elections - and banning whole parties and their leading politicians for illegal acts done by single executive members does help them to get strong enough for such a voting system.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vice province governor transfers

On November 13 the Interior Ministry has approved the list of transfers for the vice province governors (รองผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัด), a total of 69 officials get transferred to new positions. Don't worry, I won't list all of the names here, for anyone who wants the whole list in Thai is found on this local Phuket news site, as one of the transfers bring back Weerawat Janpen (นายวีระวัฒน์ จันทร์เพ็ญ) to Phuket as his final position before retirement - he had been district officer in Mueang Phuket district in 2001. The transfers become effective November 29.

The total number of 69 transfers breaks down into five categories:
  • 19 vice governors get transferred to a new province
  • 10 vice governors become acting vice governors of another province
  • 14 deputy governors (ปลัดจังหวัด) become vice governors
  • 7 other officials become vice governors
  • 19 deputy governors become acting vice governors

Friday, November 19, 2010

New provincial license plate images

Two new provincial license plate backgrounds have been announced in the Royal Gazette, both replacing older designs.

The Chanthaburi license plate [Gazette] shows gemstones to the right and some kinds of fruits (Rambutan, Mongosteen and Durian) to the left. In the background is the rising sun pointing to the location in the East, and a hill with two waterfalls. Fruits (and especially Durian) as well as gemstones are the most important products from this province, and in the hills of the province many waterfalls are popular touristic locations.

In fact, the graphic is identical with the one published in 2004 [Gazette], or instead of a scan the announcement now contains a vector drawing (however saved as a JPG in the PDF), so only the colors look much more clear now. I have uploaded the old graphic to the Picasa album as well.

For Lopburi [Gazette] I am not sure what the graphics is supposed to mean. The statues in background look like Khmer style stone carvings and thus probably point to the many Khmer ruins still present in the province - most notably Prang Sam Yot as one of the attractions of Lopburi town. I however cannot get the meaning of the four puppets in front - or are they in fact monkeys, as the wild monkeys in the city are also very iconic for Lopburi.

The graphic looks very similar with the previously announced one from 2005 [Gazette], only the arrangement of the puppets and statues is changed a bit - see it here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Draft law on Bueng Kan province creation

Apparently the process of creation of the new province Bueng Kan has made another step towards completion, as I could now find the corresponding draft law on the website of the House of Representatives, together with an envelope letter dated November 9 and signed by prime minister Abhisit. Don't know if any of the three readings of the law in parliament have been scheduled yet, but looks like it won't be this year anymore when the law becomes effective.

As it is the first time I could see the draft law, I therefore give a short summarization of the various sections - provided I did not misunderstand the text.
  • Section 1: The law is named "Royal Act to create province Bueng Kan" (พระราชบัญญัติตั้งจังหวัดบึงกาฬ)
  • Section 2: The law takes effect 90 days after being published in the Royal Gazette
  • Section 3: The districts Bueng Kan, Seka, So Phisai, Bung Khla, Bueng Khong Long, Pak Khat, Phon Charoen and Si Wilai are split off from Nong Khai province and form Bueng Kan province.
  • Section 4: The district Bueng Kan is renamed to Mueang Bueng Kan.
  • Section 5: Transfer of assets, debts and rights of Nong Khai province for the relevant district to the new province
  • Section 6: The provincial administrative organization (PAO) Bueng Kan gets created.
  • Section 7: Transfer of assets, debts and rights of Nong Khai PAO for the relevant district to the PAO of the new province.
  • Section 8: Orders issued by Nong Khai PAO relevant for the area of the new province and still in effect continue until the new PAO issues new orders.
  • Section 9: Tax rates for new province is same as for Nong Khai until ordered otherwise; all taxes collected in the area of the new province get to the new province.
  • Section 10: The Members of Parliament of constituency 2 of Nong Khai becomes representatives for Bueng Kan, whereas constituency 1 stays for Nong Khai.
  • Section 11: Election of PAO council for both remaining Nong Khai province and new province within 120 days after law becomes effective.
  • Section 12: Election of PAO chairman for both remaining Nong Khai province and new province within 120 days after law becomes effective.
  • Section 13: As long as no committee of PAO, Thesaban and Tambon for new province is established, the one from Nong Khai still continues authority over the new province.
  • Section 14: The Interior Ministry should supervise the law being made into effect.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New books

Thanks to the quite special selection of antiquarian books at Tamarind Books and a business trip to the US which helped me save a lot of shipping cost, I have added a few new books to my library about or closely related to the topic of this blog.

The first one - Provincial administration and local government in Thailand by William A. Sommers - I had already discovered some time ago, but except the fact that one copy was available I wasn't able to find any details about it. It turns out to be just a pamphlet of 13 pages (plus one chart), published in 1969 by the Department of Local Administration. Sommers worked as USOM advisor to the Thai Ministry of Interior in the late 1960s.

Similar, but with 30 pages about the double size, is the pamphlet Local Government in Thailand by Daniel Wit. It was published by the Ministry of Interior in 1958, and according to the preface is an extract of the book "Comparative Local Government and Administration" published by the Thammasat University.

Also only a pamphlet is the Thailand Population Census 1960 Changwad Series: Changwad Chiengmai, which I bought just out of curiosity. I would have preferred to catch the Surat Thani issue, but since it is basically nothing but the census numbers, which for the 2000 census were available for free as Excel sheets. I hope the National Statistical Office will publish the full data from the older census when this year's census is complete, but I am sure it's just in vain.

Wilfred D. Reeve's Public administration in Siam, originally published in 1951, also just has 93 pages and gives an overview over the whole public administration, thus the territorial and local administration is only a small part of this book. But what is striking is that the two most pressing problems of the administration in 1951 were the corruption and nepotism in nomination of government officials. While the corruption is not as open as it was back then, the last 60 years hasn't changed that much in Thailand it seems.

Politics in Thailand by David A. Wilson is more about the government politics, parliament, political parties. Published in 1962 it is also covering the same time-period as the other books, but as it focuses on the higher political levels it seems to be the one least related to this blog.

And finally from a different antiquarian, the book Thailand: The Modernization Of A Bureaucratic Polity by Fred W. Riggs, published in 1967, is also a very interesting read. Especially chapter seven which covers the territorial administration gives quite a lot of details of these entities in the past, it is the first place where I found anything about the regions which were created as a supplement of the Monthon.

Thus a lot of new material to work through, and I am sure I can make several postings with interesting quotes from these books. It is just sad that the copyright laws won't allow me to digitize all the pamphlets and make them available for the public, even though I doubt anybody could use the rights commercially. These works are probably only of interest for a few academics and one crazy amateur researcher...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rename of Muban in Chiang Mai

Another decision from the meeting 3/2010 on August 10 of the board to consider name changes was published in the Royal Gazette last Thursday. One administrative village in Chiang Mai province changes its name. Muban 8 of Mueang Kaeo, Mae Rim district is renamed from Ban Thung Khao Nao (บ้านทุ่งข้าวเน่า) to Ban Thung Khao Hom (บ้านทุ่งข้าวหอม).

The announcement gives as the reason for the change that while the old name had no special meaning, the new name - literally translated as Village of Jasmine Rice Fields - however is supposed to encourage the rice farmers.

The name change was approved by the board on August 10, the announcement was signed on September 23 by deputy province governor Chumphon Saengmoni (ชุมพร แสงมณี), and published in the Gazette on November 11.

Sadly as the meeting transcripts for the board to consider name changes isn't published on any website I don't know if there may be further Muban name changes pending, additionally to this and the already published name changes of four local government units.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Minor districts in Siam

Rikker's blogpost on his starting of the Thai Gutenberg project made me rediscover one book in the Thammasat Electronic Rare Books site titled "การตั้งกิ่งอำเภอในประเทศสยาม", which translates to "Creation of minor districts in the country of Siam". It was published in 1938 by Thanom Vibunmongkhon (ถนอม วิบูลย์มงคล), who was province governor in the 1940s in Pathum Thani, Chanthaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan. So this short 35 page publication was maybe something like his graduation paper when beginning his career in the bureaucracy.

I have no idea if this work is already in the Public Domain - according to Thai law 50 years after the death of the author, but I haven't found any more details about Thanom than those three governor posts - but would love it if this book would be really digitized now. While the scanned PDF is of course better than nothing, having it as a Thai text file would allow many more things like searching for words or, especially useful for me struggling with learning Thai, copy-and-paste it to Google Translate for a first overview or copy words to the Longdo dictionary. But I somehow doubt an OCR software would work on that font used in the book, at least a native Thai proofreader would be mandatory.

The parts which I could understand in that document already were a few Royal Gazette announcements copied verbatim as examples, i.e. the creation of Wang Nuea in 1938 [Gazette], the creation of minor districts in Monthon Udon in 1926 [Gazette] - the latter even with a wrong signature date of 1917 (2460) instead of 1926 (2468).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bueng Kan in 1884

Etienne Aymonier
1883-84 the French explorer Étienne Aymonier traveled through the northeast of Siam, including a travel up the Mekong river. He wrote down about his travel later in the tree-volume book Le Cambodge, all of which are available in an English translation published by White Lotus books. While I already had the volume on the Khmer ruins in Isan, the translator himself stumbled on my blog and made me aware that the volume titled Isan Travels: Northeast Thailand's Economy in 1883-1884 has both very valuable information on the administration in Isan before the thesaphiban reforms as well as a short description of Bueng Kan. Thus the paragraphs on the area which will soon become the latest province give a good historical perspective, so I quote the most relevant parts here.

On Friday, February 1, leaving Ban Tha Kaï (or Khaï) at 6 A.M., Top and Kim stopped after one and a half hours in Ban Beng Khan, on the left side, where they had to change pirogues and oarsmen. This village, where they spent the whole day, was opposite the confluence of the Nam San, an unimportant tributary of the Nam Khong. I will report here the information that the locals gave my two Cambodians about this watercourse and the region it irrigated. [...]
The inhabitants of Ban Beng Khan also gave my men information summerizing quite precisely the adventure that happened in 1882 to Dr. Neis, the report of which the courageous explorer has since given in Le Tour de Monde. [...]

Map of Bueng Kan area
A few paragraphs before Aymonier mentions that the rapids of Keng Sadok marked the boundary between the Mueang Phon Vi Saï (Phon Phisai) and Sayahbouri (Chaiburi, near Tha Uthen), thus the village of Bueng Kan itself belonged to Phon Phisai whereas Bung Khla district to Chaiburi, the boundary between the two provinces was probably about the same as between the two districts nowadays. Too bad I have no complete lists of the many changes done in the administration during the thesaphiban reforms of Prince Damrong, but I'll try to write up a detailed administrative history of the area of Bueng Kan province later.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Local government units name changes announced

The name changes for municipalities and TAO approved in the board meeting on August 11 have been officially announced in the Royal Gazette last week - thus it was rather fast from the board to consider name changes on August 10, next day the board to consider draft laws, on September 17 the announcements were signed by Deputy Interior Minister Boonjong Wongtrairat (บุญจง วงศ์ไตรรัตน์ - who just lost his seat in parliament because the Election Commission found him and other guilty of violating the anti-corruption laws by owning shares of companies who work for the government), and on November 5 the change was officially published.
  • Samrong Tai town (เทศบาลเมืองสำโรงใต้), Phra Pradaeng district, Samut Prakan province renamed to Pu Chao Saming Phrai (เทศบาลเมืองปู่เจ้าสมิงพราย). [Gazette]
  • Sattahip subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลสัตหีบ), Sattahip district, Chonburi province renamed to Khet Udom Sak (เทศบาลตำบลเขตรอุดมศักดิ์). [Gazette]
  • TAO Song Hong (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลสองห้อง), Mueang Nong Khai district, Nong Khai to be renamed to Pho Sawang (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลโพนสว่าง) in accordance to the rename of the subdistrict earlier this year. [Gazette]
  • TAO Suak (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลสวก), Mueang Nan district, Nan to be renamed to Bo Suak (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบ่อสวก) in accordance to the rename of the subdistrict earlier this year. [Gazette]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Another province governor transfer

Thanks to Richard Barrow, who spotted it in a Thai online news site and alerted me, the cabinet has withdrawn the province governor reshuffle list from their meeting on August 31 and September 28, and created a new reshuffle and promotion list in their November 2 meeting. Though however with regards to the province governor, the list is almost identical to the one from end of September, with only two changes:
  • Thani Samarotkit (ธานี สามารถกิจ), originally transferred from the deputy governor post Chonburi to Pathum Thani, becomes governor of Buriram instead.
  • Phirasak Hinmueangkao (พีระศักดิ์ หินเมืองเก่า), originally staying in Buriram, get transferred to Pathum Thani.
According to Khun Wisarut, the main political commenter (though sadly always strongly leaning to the PAD viewpoint) on the 2bangkok forum this change was done as Phirasak Hinmueangkao is expected to deal better with the red shirts still active in Pathum Thani. And as governor of Buriram he is connected with Bhum Jai Thai de-facto leader Newin as well.

Just wondering now if the two governors were counted as governors of their original assigned provinces for the last month making Thani one of the governors with the shortest terms in office, or whether the new transfer is effective retrospective and thus the original one nullified. The governor lists at the Buriram or Pathum Thani websites right now have no update yet. For my XML I have chosen the first interpretation, guessing the new transfer takes effect the day after the cabinet meeting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Municipality Day

While looking though the "interesting articles" section of the website of the Department of Local Administration (DOLA), I stumbled on one which was titled สาร รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงมหาดไทย เนื่องใน "วันเทศบาล" วันที่ 24 เมษายน พุทธศักราช 2550 (Speech of the Minister of Interior on the Municipality Day April 24 2007). Now just few months ago I wrote about the newly introduced "Day of Local Administration" which includes the municipalities as well, so I was a bit surprised to see that the municipalities now have two commemorative days.

The Municipality Day (วันเทศบาล) was introduced in 1990, at least in was officially announced in the Royal Gazette in September 1989. If I read the text of this announcement correctly it does not give the rationale for choosing this date, but I can suggest a very likely explanation - on April 24 1934 the first Thesaban Act was promulgated by publishing it in the Royal Gazette.

So yet another entry in my Google Calendar, so I won't miss any official celebration of this kind in case I am in Thailand on any such special days.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Interpellation to create new Muban

On Monday the reply to interpellation 1112 was published in the Royal Gazette, in which the member of parliament Phumpat Pachonsap (ภูมิพัฒน์ พชรทรัพย์) asked for the split of the administrative village 9 of Phathai subdistrict, Tha Uthen district, Nakhon Phanom to set up a new administrative village. If I understand the reply by the Ministry of Interior correctly in the garbled Google translation (even more garbled than usual due to problems extracting the Thai text correctly from the PDF), the request was denied due to both budgetary reasons as well as being not necessary. But much more interesting are the points stated in the reply as being the preconditions for creating a new administrative village. These were approved by the Thai cabinet on May 14 1996, and define two different sets of rules depending on whether the Muban is in a densely populated area or in a rural area. I will write up a list with those items in details later. Only thing that amazes me a bit is that while this same set of rules are in effect for so long, the number of newly created Muban dropped so significantly after 2007 - only reason I could think of is the political chaos since the coup, which might have hindered new projects to be started.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mueang of Isan

Another quote from Volker Grbowskys "Kleine Geschichte Thailands", in the chapter on the history of the Isan.
In dem halben Jahrhundert zwischen 1778 und 1826 stieg die Zahl der müang im Isan von 13 auf 35; für die Erschließung des Landesinneren erwiesen sich vor allem die Gründungen von Ròi Et (1775), Ubon Ratchathani (1791), Kalasin (1793) und Khòn Kaen (1797) als äußerst wichtig.

In the half century between 1778 and 1826 the number of mueang in the Isan increased from 13 to 35; most important for the development of the central area were the founding of Roi Et (1775), Ubon Ratchathani (1791), Kalasin (1793( and Khon Kaen (1797).
Now, I already wrote about the number of mueang in Isan before, quoting an article by the same author in the book "Regions and national integration in Thailand", in which the author gave the numbers for some selected years between 1826 and 1880.
  • 1826 - 33
  • 1840 - 54
  • 1860 - 70
  • 1880 - 100
  • and no new Mueang after 1885
The number for 1826 contradicts with the new quote, but when rechecking the article I noticed that in there the above mentioned numbers for 1778 and 1826 were also given few paragraphs before - so in fact the article already contains both contradicting numbers.

And to my shame I have to admit that I still haven't worked through the scans I received last year, which would have allowed me to confirm which of the two numbers of 1826 is wrong.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Old district office of Ko Lanta

Photo courtesy Camille
Camille from Ko Samui has been traveling to Ko Lanta in the Andaman Sea, which administratively forms a district of Krabi province. By coincidence he found the old district office, a beautiful old wooden building in the historic town center on the southern island. While the building is supposed to be a local museum now, it looked like it was closed down and not kept well recently - which is quite a shame. Though Ko Lanta is still a lesser known tourist attraction, there are lots of resorts on the island already which could bring enough visitors interested in a well-kept local museum.

According to one website I found, this Koh Lanta Community Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์ชุมชนชาวเกาะลันตา) was opened in December 2007 and is open daily, yet for Camille it looked like it has been quietly closed down in the meantime. Hope it is only a temporary closure, or a misunderstanding by Camille - I'll keep a look on his blog if he can find out any more details.

The building looks rather similar with the historic province hall of Nonthaburi, which is located right at the Chao Phraya river next to the Nonthaburi pier. Though the building there also has parts where it isn't restored that well yet, it has the local museum for Nonthaburi inside which is very much worth a visit, even though it is still only covering few rooms and is planned to have many more rooms and exhibits.

The modern district office of Ko Lanta is in the middle of nowhere still on the mainland, from the satellite image in Google Earth it looks just like most of the district offices today.

Monday, November 1, 2010


While the Website amphoe.com seems to be dead - at least since October 5 the name server responsible for the domain hosted within the DOPA IP range does not answer anymore - the Department of Provincial Administration had started a new website with district information some months ago, found under the address amphoe.dopa.go.th. That website seems to be still in not yet fully set up - only about half of the districts are featured there so far, and for many it has even less information than amphoe.com had, but it seems like this is the site which was announced last year, labeled amphoe.com 2.0 by me then.

One big drawback IMHO is the fact that they chose to use the Microsoft map server as the basis, which not only has far less hires satellite data than Google Earth for Thailand, but also requires the installation of the Silverlight browser plugin. Also still a big problem is the navigation, I haven't yet found an index from where I could easily choose province and district to jump to the corresponding information page. In fact, I only stumbled upon the district information pages when Google found me the list of former head district officers for Lan Saka district, Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Sadly, the structure of URL for the district information pages does not automatically create the index, they all follow the form
with the numbers starting 17 for Ko Chang and as of today ending with 429 for Cho-airong. As I haven"t found the index page, I had to create it myself by downloading all the pages and parsing them to get the district and province name. Much smarter would have been to use the TIS1099 geocode of the province instead, e.g. use 8414 for Khian Sa district instead of the rather arbitrary 39 it now has.

But as usual, this discovery leads to more questions than answers - will this become the replacement for amphoe.com, taking over the information which was present there? Or will amphoe.com com back to life once a webmaster discovers the malconfigured nameserver? Or will amphoe.com fall to a domain grabber when the domain expires in January next year? When will the new amphoe website cover all the 878 districts?