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By Kyeongae Choe

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Supporters of decentralization see it as a necessary element of grassroots democracy, believing that people participate more actively in public decision making when issues involve local concerns. When urban agglomerations expand and form city clusters, however, some of the issues are beyond those of purely local concern. Ideally, a higherlevel metropolitan or second-tier governance structure can be set up to deal with area-wide concerns. Since the issues involved in running urban region governance mechanisms directly affect the lives of residents of the entire region, levels of local citizen participation may actually become irrelevant under region-wide arrangements.

5 million by 1990. The population sharply increased with the absorption of Thonburi into Greater Bangkok in 1970 and the annexation of parts of the adjoining provinces of Phra Nakorn and Thonburi in 1972. In 1980, the Bangkok Metropolitan Region was established, absorbing urbanized areas in the provinces of Nakhon Pathom Nontaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, and Samut Sakhon. While the United Nations projects that Greater Bangkok’s population will reach 9 million by 2010, Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board has proposed an “extended Bangkok Metropolitan Region”—with a projected population of 17 million by 2010—by adding to the existing metropolitan region urbanizing sections of the provinces of Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Rayong, and Saraburi, to the city cluster.

In some instances, plans are regarded as merely indicative and not as authoritative statutory enactments. , local government bodies within a city cluster are unable to pass ordinances, zoning codes, and land use regulations with which the plan should conform. Another barrier to CCD is that many plans lack measures for achieving environmental sustainability and cultural conservation. Built forms are considered more important than natural elements, and the plans fail to consider complex biological and species-specific interrelationships.

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