Friday, July 29, 2011

Paretas' map of Thailand

The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre just across the street from Siam Square and MBK has become a venue I am visiting every year now, as they change their exhibition about every month, so there is always something new to see. Yet, last time the most interesting wasn't the graffiti exhibition, but a painting I saw for sale in one of the galleries in the lower levels of the building. As it was a bit above my budget, and also way too large to bring home comfortably and also wouldn't fit into my living room style either, I only took a photo of it - though it was probably not allowed.

The painting by Thai artist Paretas shows a map of Thailand, taking the shape of a wounded man. The big nail has "Southern Seaboard" written on it, the smaller one sticks within the three Muslim provinces and thus obviously refers to the still ongoing insurgency there. Also, a small fire east of Bangkok is labeled Map Tha Phut. One could surely add more current issues hurting the nation, but even with this small selection the painting shows a clear political message.

I couldn't find much background about the artist in English however, so I just know his full name Paretas Hutanggura (ปริทรรศ หุตางกูร), and that he is from Nakhon Si Thammarat. And I found a few other of his works, like G String for you and Monsoon Renaissance Dancing, and he is also a writer of short stories.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lists of former office holders

When I do my walking tours through Bangkok, I always try to catch a district museum or at least a district office on the way. For the tour through Phaya Thai district, I managed to visit both - the district museum as a small part of the larger Broadcasting Museum in the backyard of the Public Relations Department - I'll write about it in my travel blog later - as well as the district office of Phaya Thai in a soi near Ari Skytrain station.

The district office itself wouldn't be worth a posting here, only thing special at first sight was the billboards with the constituency candidates - I was there in the middle of the election campaign. The district office as government area was of course free of the election posters, but as it also serves as polling station the candidates are announced there in a neutral  way. But more interesting was a board right next to the staircase at the entrance.

The very decorative wooden board lists all the former district officers of Phaya Thai, starting with the district of Phra Nakhon province created in 1966, up until the current district office of the district within Bangkok special administrative area. One can see the administrative changes at district level by the title of the district officer - 1966 till 1973 it was Nai Amphoe (นายอำเภอ), then when the Amphoe were converted into Khet with the merge of Phra Nakhon and Thonburi to Bangkok the title changed to Hua Na Khet (หัวหน้าเขต). In 1985 the title was changed again, now Phu Amnuai Khet (ผู้อำนวยการเขต). This change happened on September 1 1985, and since it was in the middle of his term the 13th district officer is listed with two titles on the list. And finally, the very last entry is also interesting, as the 23rd and current district officer Sawang Bunsit (สว่าง บุญสิทธิ์) is listed as being in office from October 10 2007 till September 30 2011. Thus already in May it was known that the district officer will change this year, probably because he has reached his retirement age.

On a later tour, I have discovered a similar board in the district office of Pak Kret, and funnily also my reader Ian sent me two similar ones he discovered in Satun town. As most of the administrative units either have no website, or only a website with few historical information, these board help me a lot in adding lists of officers into my XML, only copying text from a website is much easier than typing a name from a photo. But any photos of lists like this are welcome, only should be high enough resolution to be able to recognize the Thai characters well, so if you stumble upon one don't hesitate to photograph and send me...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Upgrade of Wichian Buri municipality

It was mentioned here before, now it has been officially announced as well - the upgrade of Wichianburi subdistrict municipality to a town municipality (เทศบาลเมืองวิเชียรบุรี). The announcement was signed on May 9, and - as listed in the table before - took effect on May 26. To become complete operational, now the Election Commission of Phetchabun has to draw and announce new constituency boundaries, and then call for local elections to find a new mayor and town council.

As usual, the announcement also includes the boundary definition and a map of constituency, even though by the upgrade these did not change. But the shape of the town is quite interesting, approximately a square around the district office and a long appendix to the west along the main street. This area was added in 1985 to the sanitary district [Gazette], originally created in 1956 it was just the area directly around the district office [Gazette]. As its not so easily visible in the scaled down map scan, I have played with Google Maps again...

View Wichianburi Municipality in a larger map

The strange thing creating this map are the coordinates references in the PDF. These are MGRS coordinates, e.g. the first point at UB ๑๙๔๓๒๐. But - UB refers to a coordinate square located are Surin city. At first I suspected that my code to convert the coordinate systems is faulty, but even with another tool I confirmed that in fact the coordinates all have to begin with QT instead of UB, whereas the numbers are correct.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Historical office buildings

When I was planning for my recent trip to Thailand, I added the visit to the Ratchaburi branch of the National Museum, knowing that it is located within the historical province hall. Though I had seen other historical offices before, e.g. the old Nonthaburi government complex, as a matter of coincidence, in this recent trip I happened to see quite a lot of similar former office buildings, and all of them noticed just by coincidence.

Already at the Ratchaburi National Museum, there are in fact two historical offices to be found. While the main part of the museum is located in the former province hall, the adjoining buildings housing the museum offices and space for temporary exhibitions was the office of the Monthon Ratchaburi. [Map]

On a stop in Phang Nga, I was able to catch all of the administrative offices within the town, and to my surprise close to the district office of Mueang Phang Nga I found the old province hall. As being built from concrete, it looks very well preserved, but seems to be empty and not used currently. [Map]

In Sichon, I passed the location of the municipal administration, and doing a short walk within the compound I noticed a small wooden building still having the sign of being the district office. But in front was a separate sign which states that the building in fact is the registrar office of the municipality. The district office is located outside town nowadays, so the old building was given to the municipality. [Map]

The district office of Mueang Phuket is located directly next to a second old wooden building which also has the sign above its entrance that marks it as the district office. As I walked there when the office was closed already, I could not recognize well how it is used nowadays, but judging from the sign at the entrance it is used as additional office space to the modern building. [Map] By the way, the province hall of Phuket is still within the historical wooden building. [Map]

Since Thailand has not that many historical buildings preserved, it is good to see that at least some of the old government buildings weren't simply torn down after a new building was opened. Being a museum buff, I most like the reuse for a local museum, as was done in Ratchaburi or Nonthaburi, and also in Lampang the old province hall is set to become a branch of Siam Museum.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New board meeting transcripts

Just shortly after I complained bitterly about the lack of new board meeting transcripts, the webmaster uploaded a big set of them to the website. However it is still not yet up-to-date, as only the 2010 meetings are now covered, and also several of the meetings still have no transcript. For 2011 there are still none, there's not even the index page so far.

Those newly added transcripts contain a few changes to the municipalities, but as they are from a rather long time ago and some already mentioned here when it got announced in the Royal Gazette, I posted the individual reports only the the Thesaban Update-Blog and list them here as a table instead.

2010-10-14Meeting 52Kong Khwai (เทศบาลตำบลกองควาย), Mueang Nan district, Nan province upgraded from TAO to subdistrict municipality. [Details]
2010-10-21Meeting 54TAO Wang Nam Yen and Wang Nam Yen subdistrict municipality merged and upgraded to Wang Nam Yen town (เทศบาลเมืองวังน้ำเย็น) [Details]
2010-11-04Meeting 57Wiang TAO (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลเวียง), Thoeng district, Chiang Rai province to transfer Mu 2, 14 and 20, and parts of Mu 1 and 15 to the subdistrict municipality Wiang Thoeng (เทศบาลตำบลเวียงเทิง) [Details], [Gazette]
2010-11-11Meeting 59Ban Suan town (เทศบาลเมืองบ้านสวน), Mueang district, Chonburi needs boundary clarification, but no decision in this meeting yet. [Details]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trang license plate graphic

On July 7, a new provincial license plate graphic was announced in Royal Gazette, this time for Trang province. As Trang is located at the Andaman Sea, its not surprising that the graphic features a maritime image of two dugong, the South-East Asian relative of the manatee. Also visible are the many corals and other sea life found at the coast of Trang, and two island hills in the background. I cannot recognize if these hills are in fact modeled after two real hills - but shouldn't be modeled after Ko Phi Phi as that belongs to Krabi province.

Trang 2011

Actually, the current announcement is only a recap of an earlier one from 2004, which already announced a very similar graphic [Gazette]. The only bigger difference between the two graphics is at the left side, where the number of waves has been reduced and some fish have been added. The different colors are probably just because of the different way of placing the image into the PDF - in 2004 it was a scanned paper copy, whereas now it was probably directly created from the digital original.
Trang 2004

Friday, July 8, 2011

Subdistrict boundary definition for Tha Faek, Tha Pla, Uttaradit

Last week, an announcement with the definition of subdistrict boundaries was published in the Royal Gazette [Gazette]. It only contains the boundary of the subdistrict Tha Fak (ตำบลท่าแฝก), Tha Phla district, Uttaradit. The subdistrict is divided into 9 administrative villages (Muban) and administrated by the TAO Tha Fak.

As usual with this style of announcements, this one also starts with the list of villages within the subdistrict, and then describes the boundary to the north, east, south and west. Most helpful are of course the geographical coordinates within this description, given in the Thai MGRS system. These ones I could easily display in a map, whereas the natural boundary between these points is rather difficult to draw just from the satellite image - which is part even isn't hires yet. At least, thanks to the change of font in the PDFs now Google translate can create an almost understandable automatic translation, so I know that e.g. between the 912m peak of Phu Khen at PV 894956 and the 934m high summit at PV 881940 the subdistrict boundary follows the ridge in southwest direction. But even without the lines between the defined points, it is possible to get an idea of the extend of the subdistrict because there are quite a lot of these points in the definition. In the map below using the terrain display it is even possible to see the natural boundaries.

I gets most interesting when comparing the current definition with the earlier one from 1997. That one has less points in the definition, but nevertheless the difference between the two borders is easily visible - in the northwest of the subdistrict an chunk of approximately 50 km² is added to Tha Fak from Nang Phaya. So this announcement is not just a more detailed definition of the boundary, it also changes the boundary in part.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PAO elections in Nong Khai and Bueng Kan

This Sunday, the Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO) for the new province Bueng Kan will get elected, another step to make the new province completely operational.

The chairman of the PAO has to be elected, as well as the council of the PAO. When reading the article in Manager, to my surprise I noticed that it won't be elected from scratch, but those councilmen in the Nong Khai PAO council sent from the districts which now form Bueng Kan are already set, thus it is more a by-election to fill the vacant spaces, so the council again reaches its nominal size of 30 councilors. Therefore, the term of the council will end at the same day as it would have ended without the province creation. Correspondingly, in Nong Khai there will be also by-elections to fill the vacant spaces, these are to be held on July 16. As the Nong Khai PAO had 17 seats from the districts which now form Bueng Kan province, there are 13 seats which need to be elected now. In detail, these are
  • Mueng Bueng Kan - 4 seats
  • Ta Bo, Fao Rai - 2 seats
  • Phon Phisai - 3 seats
  • Si Chiang Mai, Rattanawapi - 1 seat
  • Pho Tak, Sa Khro, Sang Khon - no council election
The interesting thing would be the constituencies. For the PAO council, there are single-seated constituencies, thus those districts which now have to send more than one councilor needs to be divided into constituencies. But at the end of the term, there need to be different constituencies, as the number of seats per district will be different then. And an even more confusing situation could arise if one of the 17 councilors resigns or dies, then which constituencies are to be used for the by-election? The original one as used when that councilor was elected to the Nong Khai PAO? It would have been easier if the PAO council were to be elected from scratch, however that was apparently not possible as the PAO law states that the term of a councilor is four years.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Constituencies as announced in Royal Gazette

Election result for the
33 constituencies in Bangkok
The elections are over, and I finally also finished with working through the list of constituencies and writing down the administrative entities included in the constituencies. They were already announced in the Royal Gazette in May, both due to my vacation as well as the more entities involved than with the way larger multi-seated constituencies it took me until now to complete the list in XML format. At first I programmed it just to be able to check if I made any mistakes with the translation, but the calculation of the population within each constituencies easily could be turned into a nice statistics.

As there are 375 constituencies, this means that the average constituency has a population of 170,342. However, both due to the fact that provinces can only contain complete constituencies as well as due to the outline of the constituencies within the provinces, the actual population number differs quite a lot. The highest population, and thus the lowest electoral weight of each vote, was in Phang Nga constituency 1, which as of December 31 2010 had a population of 253,112. The other extreme is not far away geographically, Krabi constituency 3 has just 126,059 citizen. Note that these are the full population numbers, the number of citizen eligible to vote is of course lower.

Another reason why it took me so long where quite a few provinces where the constituencies does not contain complete districts or subdistricts, but instead municipal boundaries are used. The province where I had most problems with this was Rayong, where the town Map Tha Phut spreads over two districts, but both parts being in different constituencies. Also, Noen Phra subdistrict is shared between three municipalities, two of them going to constituency 1 and the remaining one to constituency 2. Sometimes Tambon in the list of entities means only the non-municipal parts of the subdistrict, whereas in other provinces Tambon means the whole subdistrict, not mentioning that there are municipal parts, somewhat confusing.

Also confusing is the fact that the list of constituencies was announced in the Royal Gazette twice, the first one signed on May 9 and published on May 12 [Gazette], and then a second one signed and published on May 14 [Gazette]. Since both are very long PDF files, I haven't yet been able to find the difference between the two lists, or if there is any at all.

Anyway, now I have the constituencies in XML format, the next stept I could do with that file would be to add the election results - I already prepared the XML scheme for this file to be able to cover these as well. But I doubt I will have the time and mood to do this for all 375 constituencies, but if there's anyone more interested in the election data you'd be welcome to join in the project and edit the XML yourself.