another publication by IMAGE asia

A Mystery of Life - Choosing how to use resource, fairly   Desmond Hughes

  Boat Lagoon

July 2023

Whilst we are bombarded with information on external affairs that we can’t control – such as news of celebrity deaths, information on sports stars’ opinions and wars between countries managed by governments, to name a few current examples, we also quite pathetically (myself very much included) struggle with our internal resource expenditure – how much exercise can we fit in each day, do our limbs or other body parts resemble that famous Instagram poster, have we subscribed our children into enough after-school programmes and the never-ending string of mundane but individualistically important conundrums.

Distilling these battles can be difficult without taking a serious time-out for self-reflection – which not everybody has the luxury to do often. Amidst my own battles, I go hiking in Phuket each Saturday in order to spend up to six hours walking through sometimes challenging terrain, with often stunning views and a healthy supply of mosquitos and different interesting characters, some resident and some transient, who frequent the walks. This has helped greatly with trying to see the metaphorical trees clearly through the morning mist; but ultimate answers to the puzzles of life will inevitably remain elusive.

Nevertheless, it has occurred to me recently, perhaps behind the curve of many others, that the common thread amongst the world’s external battles and our internal struggles is that of resource allocation. In essence, it seems that most humans and animals are all battling over their share or others’ share of resources. Sometimes this is done rationally, but ofttimes not so.

From the moment we wake up, the resource battle begins, including in Phuket, my principal home residence. How much road space can we hog whilst we drive to work or our children to school. Can we cut in front of someone to “win” that extra ‘ten seconds’ that we will surely waste on meaninglessness inertia later on in the day. The roads we use, the manner in which we conduct ourselves in transportation and the majority lack of respect for sharing resources is unfortunately indicative of a selfishness inherent in the human race. Some might say, the reason why we are forever doomed to toil the land. 

As we drive to our morning destinations, it is evident that many Phuket residents live near to, or even with a view of, the sea and beaches. These geographical gifts symbolically represent local and global resource struggles with an almost unmatched poignance. Some selfish participants dispose of their trash recklessly without knowledge or regard for our ecosystems and future. Others seek to interrupt or mitigate this negative feedback loop by picking up the trash on beach walks or investing in robotic marine systems that hoover up this symbol of basic human evil. For those that wish to visit the beaches and see the sea, the options become more limited as luxury homes and hotels continue to compete for the vistas, trickily making public accessways difficult or inconvenient in order to steal exclusivity for temporary guests.

However, during my hikes I have been inspired that there is still hope when witnessing local communities still living near to beaches and the sea in simple but nicely set out housing designed specifically to accommodate a ‘Thai way’ of living, allocating their space without 4-metre high walls and sharing their meals – fruit and vegetables from their trees and plants – with family, friends and neighbours. Beyond Phuket’s fine shores and Thai communities’ generosity of spirit, the global extractive tourism battles rage on and resource selfishness prevails.

Whilst reading the news on my precious resource rich iPad over a coffee served by cash and resource poor Myanmar temporary workers with nominal legal rights, I often hear Eastern European and Russian language voices which, due to my lack of linguistic depth, represents an impenetrable but fascinating tilt to the sounds of the day. I glance down at the headlines and see economic leverage and life changing peaks and troughs undulating over the OPEC-driven barrel production and price setting, together with more news on the supply of weapons to Ukraine and increased sanctions on Russian nationals wherever they might be. Have the lessons of the past been forgotten? Do new governments and politicians pore over history and consider the ramifications for society and their own nationals over each of their decisions, or do they think more of the here and now and the resources which might trickle or flow into their own coffers.


Those with perceptive abilities can see the battle playing out between individuals and entities for Chinese tourists’ money often before they even arrive. Even state agencies shamelessly describe such visitors in terms of a ‘spend per head value’, monetising humans at every opportunity, hence minivan operators set up to move them from place to place, overpriced fruit, pack-them-in massages and curated market tours. The Chinese ‘independent traveller generation’ fortunately pierce through the controlling, rent-imposing managed tour veil by booking their own accommodation, hiring their own transport and using their own cuisine guides to explore new food and experiences. Irrational greedy short-term players continue to chase the Renminbi margins without much thought to the tales which will be told by the Chinese visitors back home of treatment and experience.

Humans unquenchable thirst for ‘more stuff’ permeates not just retail malls and supermarkets, online stores and boutique artisan shops, but is so unquenchable it means we are willing to fight each other, to the death or at great cost to health, happiness and wellbeing, for a slice of the resource pie(s). My followers are bigger than your followers, I secured more clients than you did this week, my car has bigger wheel rims than your car, my house is bigger than your house, my spouse has a better-defined rectus abdominis muscle than yours. The madness continues seemingly unabated.

This movement will only ever dissipate or shift through a generational change in attitudes and approach to resources – and a vision that resource isn’t just minerals, oil and gas, but includes the space available to stand in a hotel elevator, the space at the drop off area on the school run and a public right of way to an area of outstanding natural beauty. ‘Sharing is caring’ is not just a twee term introduced into the modern primary and secondary educational system curricula.

If we accept that resources for the rich and well off are over plentiful, then perhaps we can focus on ensuring the less well-off are able to both produce and use resources, not just supply them to others in the food chain. If we apply this thinking to our daily interactions, “do I really need to push so hard for this”, then levels of kindness, reflections of happiness and reciprocity of goodwill will prevail over the uglier more apparent and reported-upon elements of our society.

It is not such a hard stretch to apply this more to our daily lives on a busy tropical island as we fight for that next commission, next property deal, best Insta photo at the sunset and the last jar of imported Vegemite on the shelf. Phuket could, with a collective effort, become a very nice happy sharing place to live, for the majority.

By Desmond Hughes, Senior Partner of Hughes Krupica
Hughes Krupica is a law firm which specialises in Real Estate; Construction; Hospitality; Corporate; Commercial; Tech; Dispute Resolution; and Litigation, operating from Phuket, servicing clients in relation to their business activities in Thailand and in other regions of Asia.

 Contact info:

Hughes Krupica Consulting

Hughes Krupica Consulting Co. Ltd
23/123-5 Moo 2 Kohkaew Plaza
The Phuket Boat Lagoon
T. Kohkaew Amphoe Muang
Phuket 83000 Thailand
Tel: (0) 76 608 468

Hughes Krupica Consulting (Bangkok) Co. Ltd
29/41 Soi Ladprao 22
Ladprao Road
Chankasem, Chatuchak
Bangkok 10900 Thailand
Tel: (0) 20 771 518

[email protected]

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