Nickname (if any): Not sure what the Thais call me but the most commonly used nicknames that I encounter in Wales and Australia are Hughesy, Gazza and sometimes Gary.
Born: Coventry, England, as my Welsh parents sadly were working there in the 60s and my Mum refused to do what a lot of pregnant Welsh mothers residing in England did at the time, which was to hop on the train to deliver her children in Wales to provide the best advantages for them going forward!
Education: Primary and secondary education predominantly in Senghenydd Primary Welsh school (a village where one of the worst mining disasters of all time occurred) and Rhydfelen Welsh Comprehensive school. Obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (now University of Cardiff Business School). I am also a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) and a member of Chartered Accountants – Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).
Family background: Father (deceased) was a town planner from Cardigan County in South Wales and Mother (deceased) a nurse from Anglesey County North Wales. Both were fluent Welsh speakers. Twin Sister (deceased) and younger brother.
Family today: Married to Janice Marie Hughes (qualified zoologist) from Sydney, Australia. We have two children – Jack (14) and Alyssa (10), both born in Bangkok and attend Harrow International School.
Don Muang at the Hyde Park compound, which is next to Harrow International School.
How long in Thailand?
Arrived on February 1st, 2000.
What brought you here?
Following the 1997 Asian economic crisis, the Thailand financial institution was looking for assistance from international insolvency, bankruptcy and restructuring experts to teach them how to implement new bankruptcy laws and restructure some large unsecured debts that they owed locally and internationally. I was invited to join an insolvency firm from Australia called Ferrier Hodgson which had opened an office in Bangkok in 1997. They then seconded me to workat the head office of Bangkok Bank to manage a portfolio of non-performing loans.
Your profession: I have worked in the Chartered Accounting profession most of my working life in the UK, Australia and Thailand. I now manage and am majority owner of RSM (Thailand) Limited which is one of the biggest top ten global accounting and auditing networks, and is part of RSM International.
What services does your company offer?
We offer accounting, auditing, executive search & recruitment, corporate finance, legal, payroll and taxation services to individuals and corporations doing business in Thailand and globally. The RSM Thailand operation commenced in April 2001.
What clubs or societies do you belong to?
I am the treasurer of the Thailand Lighthouse Construction Charity, committee member and former Bard of the St David’s Welsh Society, the British Club, the Bangkok Club, and Girls Rock Asia. RSM Thailand is a member of nine chambers of commerce in Thailand.
As my parents knew that they would return from England to Wales one day, they taught my sister, my brother and myself Welsh before English. Their intention was for us to eventually attend a Welsh School where most of the subjects would be taught in Welsh. Welsh is spoken by approximately 500,000 people. Wales has its own TV and radio stations and I have a number of books, vinyls, cassettes and CDs (all Welsh) here in Thailand. Wales is a member of the Celtic countries and is far older than England.
Unlike the other Celtic countries or regions (Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall and Brittany), Wales is the only one where the language has never died or been in a state of decline. Indeed, there has been a great revival in the level that the language is spoken sincethe 1960s following the efforts of the Welsh Language Society and the Welsh Nationalist Party.
How important is your Welsh background?
Extremely important. I am a fluent Welsh speaker and every year I celebrate St David’s Day as St David was the patron Saint of Wales. I follow the Welsh national rugby team (who won this year’s Six Nations rugby competition and successfully completed the grand slam.
Do you have a Welsh name?
Gareth is Welsh and Hughes is a very common surname in Wales.
As one of the ancient Celtic languages, can a Welsh speaker converse with an Irish or Scottish Celtic speaker?
There are some similar or identical words, but generally the languages are very different.
Do you know how many people from Wales live in Thailand?
Nowhere near as many as the English, Irish or Scottish, and I am guessing that it may be close to 100 persons.
Should Wales be independent of England and, like Scotland, demand a vote to that effect?
I believe that many Welsh people who are nationalistic would believe that they should, but in all honesty, Wales is reliant on England and the United Kingdom as well the EU and the rest of the world. Wales does have its own Assembly of elected representatives so many important decisions are now made in Wales though a great deal of its funding is from Westminster and the EU.
For or against Brexit?
Totally against it.
Favorite Welsh singers, actors and writers / poets?
Wales has bands that play or have played via the medium of Welsh and English and the same can be said for its actors. My favourite Welsh musical artists would include Bran, Endaf Emlyn, Dafydd Saer, Bedwyr Morgan, Geraint Griffith, Tara Bethan, Pino Palladino, Stereophonics and Budgie. My favourite Welsh actors include Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Ieuan Rhys, Phil Reid & John Ogwen.
My favorite writers are T Llew Jones and Islwyn Ffowc Elis Any hobbies?
I collect guitars and support Girls Rock Asia and I sometimes perform in rock bands around Bangkok. I also enjoy arranging rugby dinners for Bangkok based charities.
Best project (business or / and social) ever undertaken: I organized two rugby charity dinners in Bangkok featuring international legends Mike ‘Spikey’ Watkins, Gareth Davies, Steve Fenwick and Fergus Slattery which were hugely successful. I was also involved in a project called Girls Rock Asia promoting talented female rock stars and bands. We held five events that I was directly involved in, working closely with a very talented Thai female artist EarthCollide.
Worst project ever undertaken: None to date (touch wood) as all have been successful!
Probably Mike ‘Spikey’ Watkins. Many of my other great friends have left Bangkok due to expatriates in this part of the world moving from location to location
Favorite hang-out places in Bangkok?
Used to be Molly Malone’s which recently closed, but enjoy any live music venue and Apoteka in Soi 11 and Check Inn in Soi 33. I also frequent Benihana’s Japanese restaurant at the Anantara Riverside Hotel, the Living Lounge at the Sheraton Grande Hotel in Sukhumvit, the bistro in Hyde Park, Paddy’s Fields and O’Malleys bars in Silom and Herritty’s in Sukhumvit.
Favorite weekend getaway?
I tend to just relax at home in the Hyde Park Compound as we are next to a lake
Has your view of Thailand changed over time?
When I first arrived, I believed or was persuaded that Thailand was not sophisticated and required a lot of assistance from the West. I have since learnt that Thailand can operate and compete with the best, and Thais are more than capable of running things here. Thailand has developed very quickly since I have been here.
The weather and the music scene.
How can Bangkok be improved?
I would have said in the past the transportation or traffic system, but if I compare it to Sydney or London then it is not too bad. Obviously, many safety issues could be addressed.
Most interesting person / people you’ve ever met?
I went to a presentation at the Shangri-La Hotel and listened to John Major, the UK former prime minister who followed
Margaret Thatcher. I did not meet John but thoroughly enjoyed listening to him speak. Most people that I have met have generally something interesting to say.
What bores you?
Generally I get very bored listening to people (and especially expatriates) explaining to me how Thailand works or what is happening with politicians or political parties here. The longer I have been here the more I believe that few if any actually really know what is going on or what is about to happen. I get very bored by negative people or even over positive ones!
What’s the most overrated thing about Thailand?
Where do you exercise?
The Bangkok Club gym in the building where my company RSM is situated and I also cycle around the Hyde Park compound where I reside.
Can you see yourself ever going back to live in Wales?
Not really as my wife is Australian and wishes to return there to live one day. However, I always love visiting Wales, which I am fortunate enough to be able to do at least once or twice a year. My brother and I have kept my mother’s old home in Anglesey, Wales, which is a beautiful seaside village where I spent almost every holiday as a youngster growing up.
What’s next for you?
I am waiting for Led Zeppelin to re-form and invite me to join them on a world tour or alternatively for a record company to offer me the opportunity to put an album of hits togetherJ! However, on a more serious note, I am looking at building the RSM business and watching my children grow up and guiding them away from some of the many mistakes that I made along the way.