Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday linkage

Korat Weekends pays a visit to the residence of the governor of Nakhon Ratchasima, which was open to the public on the occasion of the Thao Suranaree Victory Celebration Fair 2011. Sadly he gave no description on what is actually depicted on the several photos in there.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Land office for Bueng Kan

With the creation of Bueng Kan province, secondary administrative offices have to be created or adjusted in their area of responsibility. Yesterday, announcements regarding the cadastre or land office (สำนักงานที่ดิน). There previously was already a branch office in Bueng Kan (สาขาบึงกาฬ) from the cadastre in Nong Khai, which was already created in 1996 [Gazette]. This branch office however did not cover the whole area of the new province, as So Phisai district was still under the head office in Nong Khai.

Thus now not only the branch office Bueng Kan gets upgraded to a full province cadastre office [Gazette], this first announcement also includes the change of area to be the same as the new province. Additionally, the branch office Seka has been renamed from Nong Khai to Bueng Kan. As this also means that the area of responsibility of the Nong Khai cadastre has to change, this was done in a second announcement [Gazette].

Monday, March 28, 2011

Global Administrative Areas

When I was recently checking the UN-SALB (Second Administrative Level Boundaries) project whether there had been any updates for Thailand yet, I stumbled on the Wikipedia article on the related GAUL (Global Administrative Unit Layers) project by the FAO. And finally the weblinks in that article include on to the website of a project named Global Administrative Areas (GADM), unlike the first two a small independent group without the backing of a large international organization.

On that website one finds the boundaries from the subdivisions of most countries in the world, in case of Thailand down till Tambon level. They can be downloaded for free in various formats and are free for academic and non-commercial use, for those who have no real GIS software the Google Earth KMZ format is probably the only which can be used. I had a short look into the Tambon file, with 18 MB size and over 7000 shapes in it Google Earth became very sluggish, and sadly without any hierarchy in the KMZ its very hard to navigate.

So the few areas I managed to check in detail, these boundaries aren't better then those displayed in Google Earth already, both having parts where they must be in contradiction with the actual boundary. Sadly the website does not state any source for the data, or any comment on the accuracy. Thus sadly these boundaries are still not help on my search for authoritative maps.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Constituencies per province announced

Yesterday an announcement from the Election Commission was published in the Royal Gazette, in which the EC defines the number of constituencies per province according to the population number of December 31 2010 and with the new number of 375 constituencies [Gazette]. As mentioned before, this reduction of constituencies from 400 to 375 does not change the number of constituencies in every province. Actually this announcement on states the number of seats in parliament for every province, only because the constituencies have been changed to be single-seated this also includes the number of constituencies. The actual boundaries of these within the provinces will be announced later, though in many cases the boundaries from 2006 can be reused, the last election with single-seated constituencies under the 1997 constitution.

Interestingly this announcement does not include Bueng Kan province, obviously because the announcement was approved for publication on March 17, whereas the province came into existence on March 23. I don't know why the announcement wasn't delayed until the province was created, but luckily the calculation with or without Bueng Kan gives completely same results, the 5 seats from old Nong Khai get split into 3 for the reduced Nong Khai and 2 for Bueng Kan, and no other province is changed. So it is up to the Election Commission to draw the actual constituencies within the area formerly covered by Nong Khai using the new province boundary as constituency boundary as well. But I am sure this announcement must get an amendment to show the new province as well.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Administrative Reform through Decentralization and Community Empowerment

On the Inside Thailand news feed from the Public Relations Department of the Thai government, an article with the lengthy title Administrative Reform through Decentralization and Community Empowerment was posted yesterday. Though it does not have much hard facts in it, some parts are still worth quoting.
The Government is pushing for issuance of laws to promote decentralization of administrative power and empower the community. The administrative reform will enable local organizations to play a greater role in the management of local affairs.
He [Prime Ministrer] cited the move to upgrade Mae Sot district in Tak province into a special administrative zone as an example of decentralization of administrative power. The Cabinet has already given the green light to the legislation on the Mae Sot special administrative zone. The legislation is pending consideration by Parliament. Once approved by Parliament, Mae Sot will be granted new powers and responsibilities, and laws and regulations introduced by the special zone should override those of the central administration. It will become a model for other towns planning to enjoy true decentralization of power.
This confirms the status I knew about this project, and since now parliament is busy with the preparations of house dissolution and the laws necessary for the election under the amended constitution, it's unlikely this law will be considered in parliament in this term anymore.
Dr. Prawase Wasi, Chairman of the National Reform Assembly, also called for decentralization and community empowerment in his keynote address on Thailand Reform in early March 2011. He said that centralization of power would lead to dire consequences. For instance, it weakens communities, making them unable to handle local affairs. Centralization also leads to conflicts between local culture and central administration, weakens bureaucracy, paves the way for rampant corruption and a substandard political system, and makes it easier to stage a coup d’état. Decentralization of administrative power will make it difficult for any group to seize administrative power.
I have a posting on Prawase's keynote half-finished, but sadly still don't know what he actually suggests as measure to move to a more decentralized country. All I read so far was that he suggests to strengthen local administration in village councils and the TAO, not really unexpected for something named decentralization to mean giving more power to local administration.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Welcoming the 76th province Bueng Kan

The new province Bueng Kan is now officially there, making it the 76th province of Thailand. Yes, the 76th, because Bangkok is not a province, but a special administrative area - only because Bangkok is at the same administrative level as a province most of the time it is sloppily counted as a province as well.

In a very short article Bangkok Post reports on the inauguration celebration.
Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul on Wednesday morning presided over the inauguration of the new province of Bung Kan, now officially the country's 77th province.
Mr Chavarat and Deputy Agriculture Minister Supachai Phosu joined thousands of people at a ceremony to open the city gate.
Sompong Arunrojpanya has been appointed first governor of the new province, which will have two MPs.

And probably not only Bangkok Post, but also all of the Thai media reported it to be the 77th province. On the English Wikipedia I have already reverted three times edits which claim Thailand to have 77 provinces, even though in the next sentence of the articles the special status of Bangkok is explained. One user even was so smart to modify the HTML comment I added after the number which I added to prevent this from happening, thinking there are 77 provinces plus Bangkok...

The first governor is Sompong Arunrojpanya (สมพงษ์ อรุณโรจน์ปัญญา), who was previously deputy province governor in Phitsanulok.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bueng Kan province created

Other than previously expected, the act to create Bueng Kan province was published in the Royal Gazette today already [Gazette]. As the law text was changed to be effective the day after publication instead of a 90 day waiting period, the new province comes into existence tomorrow.

Two Thai Wikipedians already did a lot of the work with the various article on Thai provinces to incorporate the new information, the parts still lacking are updated maps and also the Amphoe articles of the new province as well as those neighboring it. And even better than already doing part of the work to update Wikipedia, the user Aristitleism even translated the text of the law into English already and posted it to Wikisource. Though this is of course not an official translation, it definitely helps a lot to get the details in the law - trying to read the draft law was very difficult with my limited Thai.

It seems like all the English news sources have ignored the topic so far, neither at the government news outlet NNT nor Bangkok Post and The Nation seem to have an article on this yet - all seem preoccupied with the date of house dissolution and therefore the date of elections.

To incorporate the new province into my XML I have to wait until the geocodes of the districts get published, I only know (well, actually expect because there's no other option) that the province will get the code 38, and therefore the Mueang Bueng Kan district the number 3801, but for the other seven districts I have to wait.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dates of new subdivisions becoming effective

As it looks like Bueng Kan province will be created effective April 1, I noticed that this specific date is rather popular for new administrative entities. As there haven't been that many new provinces, a table of all the dates is relatively short.
  • 1993-12-01: Amnat Charoen, Sa Kaeo, Nong Bua Lamphu
  • 1982-09-27: Mukdahan
  • 1977-08-28: Phayao
  • 1972-03-01: Yasothon
  • 1947-10-01: Kalasin
  • 1946-05-10: Nakhon Nayok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon
Provided I did not misunderstand the dates - for Phayao and Yasothon it said "one month after publication" so I assume same day in following month, there was none on April 1st. Note that the 1946 and 1947 provinces were in fact recreated after being abolished before.

However, when looking at the districts, April 1st is by far the most popular date. Since 1950, there were 410 newly created districts, most of them originally created as minor districts. Of these, 59 were effective April 1st, 14% of all districts. Other popular dates are May 1st (29 districts), July 1st (28 districts), July 15 (25 districts) and April 30 (21 districts). Only 11 districts were created on October 1st, the beginning of the fiscal year.

I don't know if the preferences of April 1st has to do with the fact that this date was the beginning of the Thai year until 1940. That date is also the anniversary of the Ministry of Interior, which started operation on April 1st 1892 with Prince Damrong as the first minister.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ang Sila upgraded to town municipality

Wat Thep Sathit in Ang Sila
Announced in the Royal gazette yesterday was the upgrade of the subdistrict municipality Ang Sila (เทศบาลตำบลอ่างศิลา) to a town municipality (เทศบาลเมืองอ่างศิลา). The announcement was signed on February 10 by Deputy Ministry of Interior Bunchong Wongtrairat (บุญจง วงศ์ไตรรัตน์). I suspect this is also the date the change has become effective.

This announcement would have slipped through my automatic monitoring, because in the Gazette database its title was entered with "ปลี่ยนแปลงฐานะเทศบาล", omitting the first character - "change status of municipality" correctly reads in Thai as เปลี่ยนแปลงฐานะเทศบาล. But in the PDF itself the title is of course correct.

And it also might have slipped through because I haven't seen the board meeting transcript dealing with this upgrade, still the latest found is from September last year, so half year no information on the latest changes. Unlike before now again the Royal Gazette is the only source of the latest information. I only hope that the publication of the transcripts will resume soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Khwaeng in Pattaya and Hat Yai?

So far I only knew about two cities which have an additional subdivision into subdistricts (Khwaeng, แขวง) additional to the boroughs (chumchon, ชุมชน) - Chiang Mai and Nonthaburi, though only for Chiang Mai I have found a list of all the municipal subdivisions on their website.

As I monitor changes to the Wikipedia page "Administrative divisions of Thailand" making sure nobody removes the link to this blog (just kidding), I noticed a change last week suggesting that Pattaya and Hat Yai also have this additional subdivision. The user Marut28 who did this change in past had done several good edits, especially related to Surat Thani Province and Chaiya, thus I trust his edit to be correct. The bad thing - this user never ever replied to any questions posted on his talk page, so trying to ask him for a reference probably won't give me any answer this time either. I tried to look at the websites of both Pattaya and Hat Yai, but failed to find any page listing their subdivisions.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lak Mueang of Phuket

Lak Mueang Thaland Tha Ruea
Photo by Ian Reide
In case you follow the comments on this blog as well, you already read that my reader Ian is currently in Phuket exploring, including topics related to my blog. And since he is also fascinated by the city pillar shrines (Lak Mueang, หลักเมือง), he found out why there is no major shrine in the provincial capital like in (most) other provinces.

In Google Maps a city pillar shrine for Phuket can be found way outside the provincial capital, close to the Heroines monument and the Thalang national museum. As it is not as big as those in other provinces, and a bit off the main road, I haven't spotted it myself during the few days I have been on Phuket so far. But I had marked it in my Google Map of the city pillar shrines.

When Ian was now exploring Phuket, he found out that there is not just this one city pillar shrine, but a total of four spread over the island. Actually, those he talked with claimed there are five, but the fifth was nowhere to find. I haven't been able find anything in the net either, for example Kanchanapisek lists only four as well. Quite notably the current photos show those of Choeng Thale very much restored, on Kanchanapisek most have no shrine around them and look quite weathered - the one in Si Sunthon however had a better look in past.

The four city pillars are the following, all located within Thalang district:
Thalang Tha RueaSi Sunthon subdistrictหลักเมืองถลางท่าเรือWaymarking, Kanchanapisek
Thalang Mueang MaiThep Krasattri subdistrictหลักเมืองถลางเมืองใหม่Waymarking, Kanchanapisek
Thalang Pa SakChoeng Thale subdistrictหลักเมืองถลางป่าสักWaymarking, Kanchanapisek
Thalang LephangChoeng Thale subdistrictหลักเมืองถลางเลพังWaymarking, Kanchanapisek

View Lak Mueang in a larger map

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Interpellation on a Tambon Council upgrade

The latest interpellation regarding the administrative subdivisions published in the Royal Gazette yesterday is somewhat odd. In this interpellation, which was submitted on November 13 last year, the member of parliament Niyom Vorapanya (นิยม วรปัญญา) from Lopburi constituency 2 asks for the Tambon Council (Sapha Tambon, สภาตําบล) Lam Sonthi to be upgraded to a subdistrict municipality. The strange part is that apparently Niyom is not really familiar with what he has asked - because the Tambon Council Lam Sonthi has been upgraded to a Subdistrict Administrative Organization in 1996 already [Gazette], the last of the Tambon Councils were gone by 2001. Thus not surprisingly, the answer from the Ministry of Interior is rather short
ปัจจุบันประเทศไทยไม่มีสภาตําบลเหลืออยู่ ดังนั้น การยกฐานะจากสภาตําบล
Right now Thailand has no Tambon Councils remaining. Therefore an upgrade of a Tambon Council to a subdistrict municipality cannot be done.
What Niyom might have meant was to upgrade the TAO Lam Sonthi (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลลำสนธิ), and actually this was already approved in board meeting 26/2009, but was one of the many upgrades which were delayed for four years due to budgetary reasons.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Constitution amendments now officially announced

The amendments to the 2007 constitution, which were approved by parliament last month, have now been officially endorsed by HM the King and published in the Royal Gazette, therefore taking effect tomorrow. The amendments are published in two separate acts, the first one dealing with the Sections 93 to 98 of the constitution, that means the changes to the parliament elections. The second one only deals with Section 190 on international treaties. While the election changes has been discussed a lot in the media, it was the Section 190 which made the nationalist PAD starting their street protests again, as they scare this could lead to Thailand loose the few square kilometers around Phreah Vihar to Cambodia.

But since I only consider the constituencies as part of the topic of this blog, only the first announcement is relevant here. The change from 400 multi-seat consituencies to 375 single-seat constituencies means of course that the Election Commission has to redraw the constituencies. Luckily for them, for 53 provinces they can reuse the constituencies from the later invalidated 2006 election, the last election under the 1997 constitution with single-seat constituencies, and the EC is confident they can do the remaining provinces quickly. As Surat Thani is among these provinces and keeps the 6 seats, I don't need to amend my posting on the constituencies in that province.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday linkage

Life in Phana reports on a visit to Rong Kham municipality in Kalasin. The reason for his visit was that Rong Kham (เทศบาลตำบลร่องคำ), the municipality around the district office Rong Kham, has been awarded the first prize between the small municipalities. The authors' own residence muncipality, Phana (เทศบาลตำบลพนา) in Amnat Charoen, came in at third place in this competition, so he went to see what made the difference between the two.

As I wasn't able to find anything on this award online, especially not on the website of the Department of Local Administration, I asked the author for little bit more details - and it turns out the award was done by the Department of Environment Quality Promotion, part of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Websites moving to domains

Recently I found a list of all the local administration heads in Suphanburi province, although a bit outdated as it seems to be last updated in 2008. While I worked through that list and added the names in the Suphanburi XML, I also tried to verify the names with the websites of the corresponding municipalities and TAO. Even though about a year ago I had worked through all the provinces and added all the websites, in just the short time since then several local governments moved their website to a new location, as well as some which completely disappeared and other which got their very first website.

One thing which was noticeable for those websites which had changed their location was the trend from the generic top level domain com (and less common org and net) to the Thai government domain suffix Which is actually the much more fitting domain, especially if one remembers that the com originally stood for commercial, quite the opposite with government units. Also, these domain have the big advantage that they cannot get taken over by domain grabbers in case the administrator forgets to renew the name registration - lets not forget the infamous ProtectTheKing "hacking". Only thing which I don't like is the fact that there is no way to find the website of a given local government unit other than using Google - all kinds of romanization schemes are used, especially for the non-unique names one can find websites of different municipalities/TAO at any thinkable of the spelling variants.

But back to the subjective trend of moving into the domain. A few examples of moves are below.
  • Ban Chan TAO, Galyani Vadhana district, Chiang Mai moved from to
  • Bak Ruea TAO, Maha Chana Chai district, Yasothon moved from (still online) to
  • Dong Yai TAO, Wapi Pathum district, Maha Sarakham moved from to

But for every rule there's the exception, this one from Nakhon Phanom province. The TAO Phra Klang Thung was previously found at but is now at

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blackberries for District Chiefs

Being a district head officer (นายอำเภอ, Nai Amphoe) seems to be a rewarding job, as both The Nation and Bangkok Post report that each received a BackBerry mobile phone.
The BlackBerry smartphones issued to 873 district chiefs nationwide were part of a marketing campaign by the distributor and were not funded by the taxpayers as the opposition claimed, Interior Minister and Bhumjaithai Party leader Chavarat Charnvirakul said on Monday.
I wonder what would be worse - the phones bought by the Ministry and given to their employees as a bonus (what for), or the company being so selfless and giving them out for free for distribution? Even I don't know anything about marketing, it does not look like a normal way to boost sales by giving away so many samples to bureaucrats. Media personalities would be the much more obvious choice. So its no wonder both the normally not quite investigative Thai media, as well as Thai political bloggers smell foul play here.

One strange fact from the news is that only 873 district officers got a phone, but there are 878 districts. What happened with remaining five district officers? Why those haven't received a phone - are these five "red" district officers, who were not rewarded for political reasons? Or is it just another example of sloppy reporting by mixing up a number? Or are there currently five district officer positions vacant maybe? Sadly I don't have a current complete list of district officers to proof at least this last explanation?