another publication by IMAGE asia

New record is here!!!

  Koh Kaew

March 2023

Global and Thai society continues to advance with deeper analysis of the origins and ethics of goods and services. The Stock Exchange of Thailand is now dominated by themes of sustainability; supply chain management and ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’. The consideration of the ‘impact’ of an investment, such as on climate change care, is now at the forefront of materials displayed and designed to frame investment opportunities. Good and better news continues to permeate our globe.

However, we will likely still meet in our daily lives the overly pious, the hypocrites, and the ostentatious virtue signallers who:

(a) Viciously smash their supposedly ‘organic’ avocados
that have been transported so far away from their ‘organic’ destination that the carbon footprint is worse than the 1 in 10 private-jet-travelling attendees of a Davos summit. I love avocados and, depending on the company and owner, I would board a private jet. So sue me, if you dare.

(b) Purchase their beachwear at expensive boutiques, ‘hand-made’ and from ‘natural materials’ prior to embarking aboard one of the world’s largest pollution machines – a luxury motoryacht which, fortunately, are being increasingly redesigned with climate change initiatives in mind. I have often been on motoryachts and sailing yachts and can even amend and review vessel construction and delivery agreements. This part of our global landscape isn’t going to disappear anytime soon for as long as we have a wealth gap, elites and the desire for ostentatious luxury.

(c) Chomp down on their ‘Plant Based Meat Burger’ failing to recognise or care that plant economies are horizontally and vertically integrated with meat economies even if you don’t consume meat. Many of the same or interrelated companies profit from environmentally destructive practices, in particular transport and waste of plant-based foods, over time. I used to love a steak, and still do, but consumption frequency has dropped since I went AF and I do realise, albeit a little bit too late in life, that consumption should be managed a bit more responsibly, particularly as one ages and new generations inherit. I am well behind the pack in this regard, and humbly accept that.

I could go on. The usual counter arguments go along the lines of “You don’t have to be all or nothing, just make small differences” “I am on average doing more and things will get better”. I don’t necessarily disagree with these counters, but unfortunately they are more often that not undermined by aggressive presentation, patronising jibes, lack of rationality and lack of foundation in the theory and principles of implementing good practices.

If I eat meat, maybe I am better at sorting my rubbish than you and I don’t waste vegetables as much. If I like branded trainers which are mass produced in dubious conditions at best, maybe I take care to contribute to those that work in dubious conditions and improve their daily lives by giving my time and resource. Balance, not one-upman/upwoman-ship is surely important in these aspects our life decisions.

There is no single right and wrong way to conduct ourselves to progress, evolve and be better. However, ‘movements’; ‘trends’; ‘causes’ and ‘hashtags’ now dominate and negate the rational thinking landscape to the point where a natural reaction is outright rejection or polarisation.

To drill down into this analysis we should all try and take a little bit of extra time to understand our purchasing decisions and determine how much of our externalised virtuous demeanour should pout its achievements. Let’s take ‘EVs’ as a case in point. I am still weighing up the pros and cons.

The concept of an EV is marketed on a simple basis – there are no emissions. Overall, even taking into account battery production processes, they are supposed to be ‘greener’ than a fossil fuel vehicle. So they must be better, right? Many will already be familiar with the counters: they don’t relieve congestion; manufacturing is dominated by mining; the recycling phase is currently far less green than for a fossil fuel vehicle – but it is improving.

So there is no need to attack EVs per se – or diesel car owners for that matter – until we look very closely at supply and demand impact and how this can accelerate serious human rights violations and the spectre of modern slavery. However you rank sentient/non-sentient plants, animals and humans in your preferences for fair treatment, the knowledge of, participation in or simple omission with regard to the acts of modern slavery are not something our ‘modern society’ can be proud of collectively or individually.

Cobalt is a major component of the “EV Revolution”. It is found predominately in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”). Mining is mixed between ‘formal’ sites – supposedly regulated and observed for conditions – and ‘artisan’ or ‘informal’ sites, where child and illegal exploited labour can easily be spotted. Certain companies have monopolies on sale options among communities who devote their resource to mining and therefore price fix and depress incomes for the masses, feeding their shareholders instead. How many of the readers have a plan to visit DRC for an Instagram snapping vacation? To see first-hand the resources that are used to accommodate and to ‘give something back’? Surely it is easier to drive the EV to Hua Hin for a pineapple shake or down to visit a Phang Nga Bay viewing point without contributing a dime to National Park preservation?

Yes, this is deliberately scathing, provocative, a bit cynical and assumptive, but this is the method of thought provocation even for overall do-gooders to further improve or assist others to improve their decision making and values.

If I can’t do anything about it, why bother thinking about it? This is a common conceptual question that is sold philosophically to promote an insincere form of ‘mental wellbeing’ – so extreme as to completely detach oneself from our real world and thereby feel nothing about the good and evil within it, nor do anything actively about the balance. Thinking will create some innovation, some narrative, some actions and some pressure.

Commenting will eventually lead to the sales and production teams of companies involved in exploitative practices adjusting their behaviour because they believe it will lead to more sales and greater profits. This is where I believe collective aggregated small steps of action can actually create a force for good, without the need for superior egotistical posturing.

We must question companies, publicly, on their practices using modern resources – social media and other platforms. Many companies are using chatbots and auto-responders to simply avoid interactions with consumers, but this is proven not to work long term based on the advent of Tripadvisor and independent ‘ranking’ and ‘review sites’. We can actually really scrutinise what companies are doing in public and challenge imperfections whilst praising progress.

Let’s not pretend EVs are perfect or the answer to our earthly problems. Let’s instead face up to our truths with honour, respect, dignity and humility and try to promulgate the treatment of workers and children in the same manner. The next time we feel like waving our virtues wildly like a nationalistic flag, we can take a deep meditative reflective breath, eliminate our assumptions that maybe most others aren’t as ‘aware’ as we are, and be candid about the pros and cons of our decision and best options for making improvements. Roll on Organic EVs v.2.0.


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]