Monday, February 28, 2011

Upgrade of Khao Noi TAO to municipality

Published in the Royal Gazette on Saturday, the subdistrict administrative organization (TAO) Khao Noi, Prachuap Khiri Khan province was upgraded to a subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลเขาน้อย). I did not know about this before, as the site with the board meeting transcripts wasn't updated for quite some time, so the latest available is from September. I only noticed it shortly mentioned in the board meeting from August 9.

In this board meeting, the municipal boundaries between Khao Noi and Pran Buri were adjusted, making Pran Buri river the boundary between the two - except one small area, which is around the location of the municipality office of Khao Noi. Sadly this one isn't marked in the map within the announcement, only the district office and the land office of Pran Buri are found in there.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Municipality office disappeared

When I was visited Phra Pathom Chedi in the center of Nakhon Pathom town, I used the chance to walk around and take photos of the administrative offices around. Whereas the district office and the provincial court were easy to find. As the province hall is now located outside city, the only other building I was after was the office of the municipality Nakhon Pathom (เทศบาลนครนครปฐม), which was shown on maps directly next to the Phra Pathom Chedi.

But when I walked there, I only saw an empty lot, only the flag and the sign at the fence reminded that there was something in that place before. Only the foundations of the building were still visible. Which got me rather by surprise, as at that time in Google Earth the building was still well visible, only recently new imaginary was added which shows the space vacated. Thanks to the timeline feature in Google Earth I can say that the building was there in January 2006, and was completely gone in December 2009.

When I later checked the website of the city, the small notice at bottom confirmed the move - it says สำนักงานชั่วคราว (meaning temporary office) at Municipal School 3 โรงเรียนเทศบาล3, southwest of Phra Pathom Chedi at Ratchawithi Soi 7. I haven't yet able to find out why the old building was torn down, if it was maybe damaged beyond repair in a fire, or simply became to small already, and also don't know when (or maybe if already) the building of a new office will start.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DOPA population statistics 2010 now online

Thanks to the Firefox browser plugin Update Scanner, I noticed that the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) has uploaded the population statistics as of December 31st 2010 to their website. Well, actually not to their main website, as at that one it still has the data as of 2008, but on server still holding the old version of their website only referenced by its IP address It was posted almost a month earlier than last year, when it appeared end of March.

Working through the data, it helped me to fix one minor bug in my software which occured in the district Wiang Nong Long of Lamphun province, one of those districts now completely covered by municipalities, and apparently the first to show in the statistics. Another thing which nearly slipped through was the fact that in Chainat the municipality Pho Nang Dam (เทศบาลตำบลโพนางดำ) was renamed to Pho Phithak (เทศบาลตำบลโพธิ์พิทักษ์) last year - and I mistakenly had the originally planned rename from the board meeting to Thep Phithak (เทศบาลตำบลเทพพิทักษ์) in the XMLs, as I failed to read the Gazette announcement well enough.

A total of 14 municipalities have been added between the 2009 and 2010 data, but only those which were already present in the latest geocode list, so I did/could not have to add any new codes to my data. Actually, this way round is the better way, I prefer to know the actual codes instead of trying to guess them from the order of entries in the statistics list. Thus there were only a few further minor points I had to change in the XML and then my software could parse the new data already. I will post some detailed analysis of the data in later posts, like the entities with largest gain or loss of population.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Number of Chumchon in large municipalities

Whereas most of the municipalities have just a handful of boroughs (Chumchon, ชุมชน), when I had a look at the website of Ubon Ratchathani recently I was surprised to find that there are quite a lot of boroughs in that city. On their map subpage, it has a map and list of 106 boroughs, and even detail maps for (almost) all of them. As the city has a population of about 85,000, this means each of the boroughs has about 800 citizen. Sadly I cannot find a table with the data for each borough, only other information piece is area which is written into each of the details map, e.g. for Chumchon 106 named Wat Burapha 2 (วัดบูรพา 2) the value is 1,436,513.09. The unit is missing, but as the whole city covers 29.04 km² it seems this is square metre and not square wa (ตารางวา).

While I already knew that Chiang Mai has a similar number of borough - 90 split between four subdistricts - the number exceeding 100 poses an interesting problem for the geocodes of the boroughs. Though they are hardly found, and I haven't yet found any complete list of these codes, it seems that they follow the system of the administrative villages (Muban) by using the last two digits of the 8 digit code. Thus the first borough Ban Kan Lueang School 2 (โรงเรียนบ้านก้านเหลือง 2) would have the code 34990001, and the last allowed code would be the 99 for Wat Si Pradu 1 (วัดศรีประดู่ 1). The final 7 borough however have no space in this system anymore.

It would only fit in case there is another level of subdivision in between - the two zeros could be used in case there are Khwaeng in Ubon Ratchathani same as in Chiang Mai, and though I have found nothing which would prove any like this the map on the Thai Wikipedia shows four areas with distinct colors. Even if these aren't official city subdivisions, using such would allow to fit in all the codes. Another possible escape would of course to use something inspired hexadecimal notation, after 99 continue with A0. The least preferred escape would be to use the last four digits for the boroughs and give borough 106 the code 34990106, as that would break the hierarchical structure of the codes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Importance of the District Office

Mueang Samut Songkhram
The 1962 book Politics in Thailand by David A. Wilson, while it otherwise has nothing about the administrative subdivisions, in the concluding Chapter has the following interesting quote on the population structure.
...consisting of an extremely large agrarian segment and a small ruling segment. The two groups interact in a tenuous manner so that the smaller does not irrate the larger. [...] Direct relationship between the two social segments are maintained through the district office, which is highly formal and socially (and often also geographically) distant.
While there are two more administrative levels below the district, these are led by locally elected headmen, which are villages same as their electorate. Therefore the district is the lowest administrative level manned by government officials sent from Bangkok. Citizen have to visit the district office sometimes, especially for the registration services - even though these are now also possible to do in the municipality offices - but the province hall they usually don't need to visit, so the district office is the most important of the government offices for the normal citizen.

This quote describes the situation 50 years ago, and the population structure has changed a lot since then. Today there's a big middle class, and only in the northeast the agrarian sector still predominates. While working in the government sector is still very popular as the career choice, it is no longer the only way to middle and higher class. And as mentioned before, now the municipality office have taken over some of the registration services, so the importance of the district office has shrunk a bit. And finally, in the last 50 years the number of districts has grown a lot from around 500 to 928, thus the district office has come closer to the people geographically as well - and with increased mobility it is also much faster to reach than 50 years ago.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2009 TAO upgrades announced in Royal Gazette

Last Friday, a whole of 72 announcements were published in the Royal Gazette, all concerning upgrades of subdistrict administrative organizations (TAO) to subdistrict municipalities. If I am not mistaken, these are all dating back from 2009 and thus already effective for more than a year, however the announcements were all signed in October 2010. Whereas several of the few municipal changes decided in 2010 have been published timely in the Gazette already, this batch of announcements gives hope that the big backlog of similar notifications will still be processed and published.

In 2009 there were many more that just 72 changes - effective between October and December 2009 alone were 319, and another 59 in fiscal year 2009, which ran from October 2008 till September 2009. And also from earlier years most of the TAO upgrades haven't made it into the Royal Gazette yet, so there should be several more bunches of announcements like this forthcoming. I skip the tedious work of listing all those announced now in this posting, anyone interested can find them in XML format in my coding project.

All of the PDFs include the boundary definition and a map, though in some cases the map was scanned in such a low resolution it is no longer recognizable. I am still working through them to use those maps to identify the municipality office in Google Earth and add it into my automatically generated map, so far just 20 of the 72 maps are done.

As an example, the very first one on the upgrade of TAO Inthakin (อินทขิล) the map inside the PDF shows a location next to highway 107. In Google at around that location is has a small group of buildings next to a small reservoir, and also the "red dot" is placed around there, so one of the buildings must be the municipality office, most likely the one with the red roof.

View Larger Map

The location is confirmed by Longdo Map, and I might have found it there before if it weren't misspelled as อินทนิล originally.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Constitutional problems for Bueng Kan province

While the announcement for the creation of Bueng Kan must show up in the Royal Gazette before Friday in order to become effective in time, a last minute attempt to stop the act was started. As reported by Post Today, there are three issues which may pose a problem with the constitution.
  • Constituencies in a 2011 election: the constitution states that the number of constituencies is to be calculated from the population number at December 31st of the previous year. However, if there is a general election in 2011 as promised by the PM, the problem is that on December 31st there was no Bueng Kan province yet, hence no basis for calculating the constituency numbers.

    I really wonder how this could pose a problem, as common sense would give the easy way to just add up the population in the districts which make up the new province, the same way as I did before to show there will be no effect on the seat distribution whether the new province is created or not.
  • Current constituencies not fully in line with province outline. The draft law stated that constituency two of Nong Khai will become the constituency for Bueng Kan. However, this constituency does include the district Fao Rai, which will not be part of Bueng Kan province. The only question which needs to be answered is - does this require a by-election, or is it in line with the constitution to have the 50,000 citizen keep the MPs they already elected even though they technically no longer belong to the constituency. In real, it only gets problematic once a by-election in either of the two constituencies becomes necessary after one of the MP seats gets vacant.
  • The senator issue. As mentioned, the act has been sped up a lot in order to be effective before February 18, in order to allow the new province to have an election senator with the next senatorial elections in three years - and not wait for nine years as it would be necessary otherwise. The possibility of a nine year waiting period has been introduced with the 2007 constitution, and while it would of course be better to improve the constitution to allow every province to have an elected senator at the next senatorial elections than speeding up the Bueng Kan law, there is no real constitutional problem regardless whether Bueng Kan becomes efffective before or after February 18th.
According to Khun Wisarut at 2bangkok filing this complaint is a political move as Phuea Thai men worry that they will loose the province to Bhum Jai Thai, who pushed for the province most. Which is simply stupid, as if the voters will change their mind and vote for the party which obstructed the province they wanted?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Finding a Muban

A reader asked me for help to find the location of one specific village, of which he only knew the name and the district. While Google Maps shows village names in some areas of Thailand, in this case it was of no help, only the Tambon center was named. One possible way would be find a good paper of the area, but from my experience all the maps found in bookstores are much inferior in mapping quality to those I am used in Europe. The official ones from the Royal Survey Department are not so easy to get.

However, I guess I could solve the problem just with the help of some Google searching, though not as directly as it could be. The first step was to find the Tambon, which is especially important in this case, as Kantharalak district in Sisaket province has a total of 20 Tambon and 274 administrative villages. Google found the website Sisaket Database, which has pages for each district, and on each of those a complete list of the villages. So for Kantharalak that page - which also has a much more detailed district history than - gave me that Ban Ta Choi (บ้านตาจ้อย) is Mu 13 of Kut Salo subdistrict.

The TAO of Kut Salo has a relatively good website, but the only information it has on the villages is a table with the village headmen, but no map, not even a sketch map. The next try was the Excel sheet from DOPA, where the local authorities were supposed to fill in the coordinates for each Muban. But for this Muban, the sheet shows the UTM coordinates 836421 1859984 - but these are totally bogus and I wasn't able to convert them into anything near the Tambon.

Normally I would be stuck now, since this sheets are my only more-or-less complete list of coordinates. But by luck Google found another source - the Department of Groundwater Resources has a list of 20 wells in Kut Salo, and the details for the one in Ban Ta Choi has the UTM coordinates 48P 0482109 1618585. This transforms to 14.6435°N 104.8299°E, in the southeastern part of the subdistrict. The final confirmation is the screenshot from PointAsia which is linked from the well detail page, which shows the village 500 m southeast of the well coordinates labeled as Ban Ta Choi. And only later my reader remembered that photo he took with the village name, which would have saved me the first steps as village number and Tambon are on that sign as well.

But please do not send me tons of similar requests now, it was fun to do it once, but doing it daily won't be for sure. This only shows how much those Excel sheets were needed, if only they contain correct coordinates and are easier accessible.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Highest number of provinces

As very shortly there will be a new 77th (or actually 76th) province, one question which might someone ask is whether this is the highest number of provinces in Thailand ever. I had written about the province changes since 1910 before, but not mentioned the actual numbers in that posting.

While it seems that the number of provinces is only rising, this is only true since 1972, which was the last time a province was abolished. Or to be exact, two provinces were abolished at that time, and the new special administrative area of Bangkok was created, and its this special status of Bangkok which makes the Bueng Kan just the 76th province, and not the 77th as almost all media reports.

However, the only real big decrease in number of provinces was in 1932, when not only several of the Monthon were abolished, but also 8 provinces. Before this act, there were 77 provinces in Thailand already. And since in 1926 the province Kabinburi was abolished, there were 78 province from the end of the Thesaphiban reforms. Therefore, there needs to be another province to be back to original number of provinces, so maybe if the province Fang gets created Thailand will be back at 78.

In the chart above I have plotted the number of provinces for each year. In orange are the four provinces in the occupied areas during World War II, otherwise the time of the lowest number of provinces due to the merger of the provinces surrounding Bangkok.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Census 2010 press release

While I am still waiting for the data of last year's census, I found a small tidbit on the census at an unexpected location - a magazine on postal applications, which for whatever reason makes it into my work office. Browsing through it I stumbled on a short article - or probably more correct a press release - from Top Image Systems who were awarded contract with the National Statistics Office (NSO) to scan and process 38 million forms from the census.

To quote from the press release directly
The NSO was looking for a system that could rapidly process the large document quantities involved in the census without compromising accuracy. An intensive selection procedure was carried out, including proof of concept (POC) and benchmark testing; following the initial tender process, eFLOW was selected to take part in a pilot program that began in 2009.
Scanning will be carried out locally in 76 provinces throughout Thailand, with central processing taking place in Bangkok. Approximately 38 million documents will be processed by eFLOW during the census. In addition, the NSO will continue using eFLOW to process 8 million general survey forms a year.
I haven't heard much about the census anymore - on the website of NSO specifically on the 2010 census the latest news is from December 2009 - and apparently the data processing isn't done yet, even no preliminary on the website either. I cannot compare with the 2000 census, as when I first looked for data there it was already 2003/2004, but don't know when the data was actually made available online then. I just hope we don't have to wait till 2014 for the results of this census...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Constituency number changes

2007 electoral regions
With the constitutional amendments, different formula for the number of seat in parliament given by a party list vs. the number of directly elected constituency MPs were discussed. In the 2007 election, it had 400 constituencies and another 80 party list, which were calculated for 8 separate regions. The ratios in discussion now were either a 400:100 ratio or the now preferred 375:125 ratio, as well as a few others but all with either 375 or 400 constituency. Of course such changes directly prompt criticism of adjusting the law to fit party interests, which due to the better performance of the Democratic Party in the party list votes is not totally baseless. However, for the number of constituencies these are spread to the provinces according to a simple formula, so here only minor preferences for one party should be expected.

Since I already programmed the algorithm for calculating the number of constituencies per province, it's easy for me to compare the two proposed numbers. The only thing I had to program for an easier comparison was to sum up the numbers for regions. To keep the table short I have only used the simple regions as defined by the National Statistics Office, with the northern region already starting at Nakhon Sawan.

As one can see, the Northeast looses most constituencies in the reduction from 400 to 375, but that's of course simply to due the fact that this area has so many constituencies. So to really compare, one should check the percentage values, which show that the South and especially the North loose, while the Central wins. I have done the calculation with the population numbers as of January 1 2009.

The weight of each vote depends on the province, due to the fact that constituencies have to be within one province there's inevitably quite some inequality - whereas in Ang Thong there are 142403 citizen per MP, in Nakhon Nayok the number is 251683 (calculated for 375 constituency MPs). With 400 constituency MPs, Nakhon Nayok would instead be nearly at the top of the list with 125841 citizen per MP, as it is one of the provinces which loose a constituency in the reduction of numbers.

While all reports focus on the numbers only, none mentions whether the electoral regions will be kept or dropped with the amendments. The new value of 125 could only be divided into 5 regions, so there has to be a change in these regions for sure. The lack of mentioning them in the news makes me think they will be dropped altogether. But guess I will only know for sure after the amendments are accepted in a joint meeting of house of representatives and senate on February 11th.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hua Hin and Cha-Am to become a special administrative area

Cha-Am municipality office
While the law to make Mae Sot a special administrative area is apparently still in the drafting process, in the next meeting of the cabinet on February 8 another special administrative area will be discussed. The touristic centers of Hua Hin and Cha-Am are to be merged into one such unit to allow a better management of the area.

Whereas the article at The Nation can be understood that the two districts might become something like a new province
Interior Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul will next Tuesday seek Cabinet approval to merge the two districts and put them under a special administration scheme. Hua Hin, where the Klai Kangwon Palace is located, currently comes under the jurisdiction of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, while Cha-am is in Phetchaburi province.
Hua Hin municipality office
the Thai language articles are more detailed but not about the administrative details. But at least the use the term "องค์กรปกครองส่วนท้องถิ่นรูปแบบพิเศษ", thus it sounds like a similar structure with Mae Sot and the already existing special administrative area of Pattaya. I only hope the transcript of the cabinet meeting will have some more details, as one thing special about this one is the fact that it would be the first local government unit spread between two provinces. So one question is whether only the two municipalities Cha-Am and Hua Hin will be merged, or the whole districts as The Nation claims. Or is it maybe even a kind of resurrection of the province plan started in the last weeks before Thaksin was ousted in the 2006 coup, and the new entity will be a copy of the special administrative area of Bangkok, which is both a local administration as well as at province level?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bueng Kan and the Senate

I was a little bit to hasty last week when I announced that Bueng Kan was done with the parliamentary process already. While it was approved by the House of Representatives, I forgot that the Senate also has to approve it, which was done on January 31st with 85:5 votes. And, as Khun Wisarut writes in the 2bangkok forum, the original law will be amended to be effective right on the next day after it is published in the Royal Gazette instead of the 90 days originally planned.

The reason for this hurry to make the province effective is the end of term for the appointed members of Senate on February 18 - as part of the transitory sections of the constitution the first term of appointed senators is only three years and not six. I wasn't aware of this transitory rule, which means that any new province might have to wait for nine years till it gets their own senator - if Bueng Kan get effective after new 74 appointed senators are chosen and endorsed, there next round of senator elections can only choose 76 senators, as the constitution states there are a maximum of 150 senators, and the appointed senators have a term of six years then as well. Thus only when in the next round of appointments one senatorial seat is left vacant there will be a space in the election three years after the appointments.