China continues in-depth investigation of Wuzhou aircraft crash

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https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015698


The United States National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed with China’s civil aviation authority, saying that no investigation information regarding a crashed Eastern China Airline was provided to media, the Civil Aviation Administration of China told Global Times on Wednesday.

China continues in-depth investigation of Wuzhou aircraft crash

It was in response to recent news reports that claimed flight data indicated someone in the cockpit intentionally crashed the jet. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the source was people familiar with the US officials’ preliminary assessment.

According to Global Times, China’s civil aviation administration quoted its US partner as saying that they strictly adhere to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, and will continue to provide professional technical support to identify the cause of the accident.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China, which is leading the investigation, said the investigation team is carrying out an in-depth investigation, including identification, classification and inspection of wreckage, flight data analysis and experimental verification in accordance with the investigation procedures.

According to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board—the country of the aircraft design and manufacturing—has been invited to the investigation.

Flight MU5735 was bound from Kunming, Yunnan province to Guangzhou, Guangdong province on March 21 when it crashed in a mountainous region in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, claiming the lives of all 132 people on board.

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China continues in-depth investigation of Wuzhou aircraft crash

Published : May 19, 2022

By : China Daily

The latest news on what’s happening in the region

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Check out what’s hot in the region on May 18 as The Nation puts together headlines from members of Asia News Network (ANN). Click to read more:

The latest news on what's happening in the region
The latest news on what's happening in the region

Covid-19 N Korea
‘Too late for vaccines to save North Korea’


Korea Herald
https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015666


Gold Laos
Newly discovered gold mine to bolster productivity in Sepon


Vientiane Times
https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015685


Tech Malaysia
DNeX, Foxconn unit to build and operate wafer fabrication plant in Malaysia 


The Star ( Malaysia )
https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015678


Tech Vietnam
Vietnam Blockchain Association makes debut


Vietnam News
https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015680

Business India 
Reliance to acquire dozens of brands in $6.5 billion consumer goods play 


The Statesman ( India ) https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015670

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Published : May 18, 2022

Newly discovered gold mine to bolster productivity in Laos

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https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015685


A newly discovered underground gold mine that has just begun operations will significantly bolster mineral production by Lane Xang Minerals Limited (LXML) and bring economic and social benefits to the country.

Newly discovered gold mine to bolster productivity in Laos

With resources of 9.5 million tonnes and ore production projected to increase from 400,000 tonnes in 2023 to 1.2 million tonnes per annum thereafter, the “Discovery Deeps Underground Mine” is expected to extend Sepon’s mine life by at least seven years to 2030, LXML, a leading mineral producer in Laos, said in a statement.

The Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines and the Chair of the Sepon Project Management Committee, Mr Thongphat Inthavong, and other government stakeholders visited the LXML Sepon mine in Savannakhet province on Monday to open what the company claimed is the first modern underground mine in Laos.

The discovery and expected increase in production will contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development in host communities, according to LXML.

“This new development will use the modern underground mining equipment, and advanced mining techniques, to transfer knowledge and skills to Lao employees and contractors – Lao mining professionals – to set new standards for underground mining,” said the LXML General Manager, Paul Harris.

Addressing the opening ceremony, the LXML Managing Director, Mr Saman Aneka, said the LXML community trust fund has contributed to better livelihoods in the three key areas of food security, health and education for future generations.

He said this underground mine is the first underground operation in Laos that is compliant with the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) requirements. To date, LXML has provided US$11 million to the community trust fund and US$49 million in income generation for local business groups.

LXML brought in specialist international expertise and equipment to Laos for this landmark project.

The Lao government’s National Green Growth Strategy recognises the mining industry as a priority sector due to its significant contributions to economic development, and LXML Sepon has consistently been rated A+ by the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines for maintaining high international standards.

“Underground mining will deliver economic and social benefits at the national, regional, and local levels, and to our stakeholders and host communities,” said Mr Harris.

“Underground mining is more economical for deeper ore deposits, with much less environmental and social impact relative to open-pit mining. At LXML, we are committed to achieving the highest safety and environmental standards and working closely with local communities to share benefits.”

Underground exploration and development will continue at Sepon through to 2023, with production from the underground mine expected in the second half of next year. The underground mine will extend 450 metres below the surface. The decline access tunnel will be more than 1,800 metres long, five metres high and five metres wide, to accommodate modern underground excavation and drilling equipment.

LXML Sepon has been operating an open-pit gold and copper mine in Savannakhet province since 2003. Over the past two decades, LXML has contributed more than US$1.6 billion in direct revenue through taxes and royalties to the Lao government, and hundreds of millions of dollars in indirect benefits through community development, employment and training.

Vientiane Times

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Published : May 18, 2022

By : Vientiane Times

Vietnam Blockchain Association makes debut in bid to put country on world tech map

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https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015680


The Vietnam Blockchain Association was launched in the capital city on Tuesday, the first official legal entity specialising in the field of blockchain technology.

Vietnam Blockchain Association makes debut in bid to put country on world tech map

The Vietnam Blockchain Association was launched in the capital on Tuesday, the first official legal entity specialising in the field of blockchain technology as it aims to put the country on the world technology map.

The association aims to promote Vietnam’s digital economy.

Among the association’s tasks are expanding relationships with blockchain organisations and communities around the world and creating favourable conditions for members to share experiences and resources to research, test, apply, deploy and trade blockchain technology in line with Vietnamese law.

Attracting investment for the blockchain industry and focusing on training and developing digital human resources are its other responsibilities.

The Vietnam Blockchain Association is also committed to making contributions to raising community awareness and advising on the development of legal corridors, standards and regulations in the application and development of products and services on the blockchain platform, said association chairman Hoang Van Huay on Monday.

Vietnam has been focusing on researching and applying blockchain, a form of data storage and transmission technology using encryption.

Due to its transparency in data sharing, high confidentiality and trustworthiness, blockchain is being used in many industries such as finance, logistics and retail.

The Vietnamese government has supported the development of blockchain technology applications in socio-economic fields, in which priority is given to businesses deploying feasible blockchain projects, bringing benefits to society.

Vietnam News

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Published : May 18, 2022

By : Vietnam News

DNeX, Foxconn unit to build and operate wafer fabrication plant in Malaysia

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https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015678


Dagang Nexchange Bhd (DNeX) and Big Innovation Holdings Limited (BIH), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (Foxconn), plan to set up a joint venture company to build and operate a new 12-inch wafer fabrication plant in Malaysia.

DNeX, Foxconn unit to build and operate wafer fabrication plant in Malaysia

DNeX, in a statement, said it had inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on establishing and operating the semiconductor fabrication facility in the country.

Under the MoU, DNeX and BIH will work together to decide the location of the new fabrication plant in Malaysia, the financing structure of the project, and the initial management structure and key personnel of the new plant.

The new fabrication plant is expected to produce 40,000 wafers per month, encompassing the manufacturing of 28-nanometer and 40-nanometer technologies.

DNeX group managing director Tan Sri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said the project would allow the group and the country to leap forward in terms of semiconductor technology advancement as well as offer a multitude of economic spillover effects to the country.

“The new fabrication plant will be the first 12-inch wafer fabrication plant in Malaysia initiated by a bumiputera company. In addition, the new fab will be operating in the 28-nanometer technology node, which is the most advanced technology node in planar transistor technology. This technology node will have a long production life and have the widest range of applications,” he said.

“The building of the new fabrication plant is part of the group’s ongoing strategy to explore new opportunities in the technology field, innovate and grow as a group and address strong global demand for semiconductors,” he added.

The Star

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Published : May 18, 2022

By : The Star

India’s Reliance to acquire several brands in $6.5 billion consumer goods play

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https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015670


Reliance, India’s biggest retailer, will acquire dozens of small grocery and non-food brands as it aims to build its own $6.5 billion (THB224.4 billion) consumer goods business to challenge foreign giants such as Unilever and Coca-Cola, according to sources.

India’s Reliance to acquire several brands in $6.5 billion consumer goods play

The company is in the final stages of negotiations with around 30 popular local consumer brands to fully acquire them to form joint venture partnerships, said one source familiar with its business planning.

The total investment planned by the company is not clear, but Reliance had set a goal to achieve $6.5 billion in annual sales from the business within five years.

“Reliance will become a house of brands,” one of the sources said. “With the new business plan, Reliance is seeking to challenge some of the world’s biggest consumer groups, such as Nestle, Unilever, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, which have been operating for decades in India.”

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Published : May 18, 2022

By : The Statesman

‘Too late for vaccines to save North Korea’

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The ongoing wave of Omicron infections in North Korea could cause tens of thousands of deaths in the unvaccinated country, according to Dr Oh Myoung-don, who heads the National Medical Centre’s committee for clinical management of emerging infectious diseases.

‘Too late for vaccines to save North Korea’

Speaking at a virtual forum organised by Seoul National University’s Institute for Health and Unification Studies on Monday, Oh estimated that the Omicron death toll in North Korea could reach around 34,000 at the end of the current wave. He said he arrived at the numbers based on his analysis of an April 15 US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report and other data out of Hong Kong.

The US CDC report, which looked at cases that occurred during Hong Kong’s Omicron outbreak from January 6 to March 21 this year, noted that the high overall mortality there was mainly driven by deaths among unvaccinated people aged 60 and up.

The report said the mortality rate – at 1.72 per cent, or 17,250 deaths per million population – was highest among people in their 80s and older who have never been vaccinated. Among unvaccinated people in their 60s and 70s, the rate was 0.27 per cent and 0.58 per cent, respectively.

North Korea has 2,409,986 people in their 60s and older who make up 9 per cent of its entire population, according to the United Nations’ 2019 statistics, all of whom are probably unvaccinated, Oh pointed out.

“Considering that North Korea does not have the kind of advanced health care system that Hong Kong does, death rates could be even higher there,” he said.

The outbreak in North Korea is growing rapidly, with about 5 per cent of its 26 million population reported having experienced a fever between late April and now. The cumulative estimated count has climbed to 1,483,060 cases and 56 deaths in less than a week since the admission of domestic cases on May 12.

In 24 hours alone, 269,510 cases of “fever” and six associated deaths were newly registered, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency announced on Monday.

South Korean public health authorities say the official estimates of cases and deaths across North Korea are likely to be vastly undercounted.

Lee Sang-won, who is leading the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s epidemiological analysis team, on Tuesday suggested a possible underreporting of deaths in North Korea.

Speaking to reporters, he said, “Based on announcements so far, North Korea’s rate of deaths per case is lower than that observed in South Korea or elsewhere in the world despite a widespread outbreak that appears to be taking place.”

Health and Welfare Ministry spokesperson Son Young-are pointed out that North Korea’s lack of diagnostics to confirm Covid-19 meant cases without symptoms were going unreported. Citing ministry data, he said, “more than half of younger patients with Omicron do not exhibit any symptoms.”

Son said North Korea’s reliance on the presence of fever to sift out suspected cases also “leaves large loopholes”.

“Only about 1 in 10 Omicron patients develop a fever,” he said.

Son said South Korea’s low case fatality rate of 0.13 per cent was a result of “mass testing and a high vaccine rate, without which even Omicron can prove deadly”.

Oh said that at this point, vaccines “unfortunately, would make little difference to the situation facing North Korea”.

He said the Omicron outbreak in North Korea likely began around April 15, weeks before the official announcement.

“Even if the vaccines were to arrive now, it would take at least a month for both doses to get to the arms of people and for the full protective effects to kick in,” he said. “By that time, Omicron will have already peaked and done its damage.”

Rather, what was more urgently needed was treatment including antiviral and anti-inflammatory drugs to stop people from becoming very sick as well as basic over-the-counter medications such as fever reducers, he said.

The lack of access to essential medicines may force North Koreans to resort to nonmedical alternatives.

North Korea’s state-run daily Rodong Sinmun on Sunday ran a story about home remedies for Covid-19 symptoms, recommending honey for a cough, willow tea leaf for other mild symptoms and ventilating the room for breathlessness.

Dr Paik Soon-young, a virologist at the Catholic University of Korea, agreed that the Omicron outbreak in North Korea has grown past a size containable through vaccination.

“The 300,000-something cases a day now being reported in North Korea is comparable to the 600,000 daily cases logged at the peak of South Korea’s Omicron surge in March, seeing that our population is roughly double theirs,” he told The Korea Herald.

Paik said North Korea would still need the vaccines to fend off possible second and third waves of infection coming their way.

“Easily storable vaccines like Novavax might be better suited for use there than the mRNA types,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, North Korea has refused international offers of vaccines and other assistance.

In a phone call with The Korea Herald, North Korea-trained physician Dr Choi Jung-hun said North Korea does not have the cold chain supply or the capacity to monitor adverse events that are necessary to carry out a population-wide vaccine campaign.

Similarly, ruling People Power Party Representative Tae Young-ho, a former North Korean senior ambassador to the United Kingdom, said in a series of Facebook posts that Covid-19 support to North Korea should be provided in the form of a “full package” to be of meaningful help.

“This means not only sufficient amount of vaccine doses to inoculate enough of the population but the infrastructure to store and deliver them,” he added.

Kim Arin

The Korea Herald

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Published : May 18, 2022

By : The Korea Herald

When Africans asked for COVID shots, they didn’t get them. Now they don’t want them

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https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015681


On May 11, Gambia was in the middle of a week-long nationwide vaccination outreach campaign to get its citizens vaccinated against COVID-19.

When Africans asked for COVID shots, they didn't get them. Now they don't want them

Driving through busy streets on the outskirts of the Gambian capital, workers from the health ministry announced that vaccines are available on the spot if people wish to get their COVID shots.

The team managed to convince truck driver Adama Cessay.

“I wanted to do it, I had even heard that they were at the police office but as I am a driver until now, I did not have the opportunity to go and get vaccinated against COVID-19. I do it to protect myself but also to go to other countries like Senegal,” he said.

Unfortunately, Cessay was only one of 10 people in the team led by the ministry of health worker; Joseph Mendy managed to get vaccinated that day.

While picking up Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses at the ministry, Mendy said he expected to vaccinate about 300 people, though he knew convincing them would be hard work.

“It is still complicated though because we have to talk to them before you start the actual process, you have to convince them that the vaccine is safe, is good, is beneficial before they take it. Now we are going to a university so most of them are already getting the information,” he said.

Once set up at the university campus, Mendy only encountered refusal after refusal, students either ignored him or said they were too afraid of needles.

After spending five hours trying to convince students, Mendy decided to try another location.

“This is frustrating. This is the situation we found ourselves in. It is difficult, so we will try another area we try our chance and to talk to them and see whether it will work,” he said.

Misinformation is also tough to unglue on a continent where sickness is often seen as resulting from supernatural forces, and where big pharmaceutical companies have in the past run dubious clinical trials resulting in deaths.

“If they inject the vaccine, they might have a side effect in your body you may ending losing your life so, that’s why,” said Bai Mbowe a student at the University of The Gambia.

The country’s experience is not unique on the continent.

Only 17% of Africa’s 1.3 billion population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – versus above 70% in some countries – in part, because richer nations hoarded supply last year. When global demand was greatest, to the chagrin of African nations desperate for international supplies.

Now though, as doses finally arrive in force in the continent, inoculation rates are falling. The number of shots administered dropped 35% in March, World Health Organization data shows, erasing a 15% rise seen in March. People are less afraid now. Misinformation about vaccines has festered.

That worries public health specialists who say that leaving such a large population unvaccinated increases the risk of new variants emerging on the continent before spreading to regions such as Europe just as governments there abandon mask mandates and travel restrictions.

In a sign of possible perils to come, cases of an Omicron subvariant have shot up in recent weeks in South Africa, the continent’s worst-hit nation, prompting officials there to warn of the fifth wave of infections.

In Sierra Leone, where 14% of the population is fully vaccinated, radio stations sometimes refuse to broadcast the government’s pro-vaccine messages because of unpaid invoices, said Solomon Jamiru, the country’s COVID-19 spokesman.

A World Bank fund for vaccine purchases and rollouts has sent $3.6 billion to sub-Saharan Africa. Of that, only $520 million has been spent. Amit Dar, the bank’s human development director for Eastern and Southern Africa, said outdated health systems had struggled to absorb the funding.

Health experts say more funding was needed at the start of the pandemic for logistics and training.

Niger, where 6% are fully vaccinated, lacks enough cold storage for vaccines in its vast rural areas, or motorbikes to distribute them, according to the World Bank.

In Zambia, where coverage is 11%, officials are planning outreach campaigns but worry they won’t be able to cover the cost of feeding doctors working far from home or pay for their transport.

The virus did not rip through African countries with the same devastating effect as in other regions.

Youthful populations and low testing rates camouflaged its spread and blunted fears.

Now the continent has too many COVID-19 vaccine doses. Vaccination sites lie empty; millions of unused vials are piling up, and one of Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine producers is still waiting for an order.

To boost uptake, countries including Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Kenya are focusing on mobile vaccination campaigns that visit communities. But finances are stretched.

Health workers in bright yellow vests fanned out across the busy market stalls and stores of western Accra, one with a cool box slung over his shoulder containing COVID-19 vaccine shots, asking wary shoppers if they would like to receive an injection.

After an hour of toiling in the baking sun, the team administered just four doses.

“The strategy is to move to the community, move from door to door to convince them, to talk to them, to tell them how important the vaccine is, the role the vaccine plays in curbing the disease and all this,” said Joseph Dwomor Ankrah, who manages Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Ghana, one of Africa’s most developed economies and one applauded for its early inoculation surge, has a funding gap of $30 million to carry out another campaign, according to the World Bank. Irregular power supply jeopardizes the vaccine cold chain. Doses expire.

Published : May 18, 2022

By : Reuters

Finland, Sweden submit application to join Nato

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https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40015677


Finland and Sweden on Wednesday formally applied to join the Nato alliance at allied headquarters, a decision spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and setting in motion an accession process that is expected to take only a few weeks.

Finland, Sweden submit application to join Nato

Sweden and Finland were both neutral throughout the Cold War, and their decision to join Nato is one of the most significant changes in Europe’s security architecture for decades, reflecting a sweeping shift in public opinion in the Nordic region since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

“The applications you have made today are a historic step. Nato allies will now consider the next steps on the path to Nato. The security interests of all allies have to be taken into account, and we are determined to work through all issues and reach a rapid conclusion,” Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a short ceremony in which the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors to the alliance handed over their application letters, each in a white folder embossed with their national flag.

Ratification of all 30 allied parliaments could take up to a year, diplomats say.

Turkey has surprised its allies in recent days by saying it had reservations about Finnish and Swedish membership.

Published : May 18, 2022

By : Reuters

Over 50 firms, celebs join hands as D.Oasis launches metaverse

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https://www.nationthailand.com/tech/40015691


Tech company D.Oasis has launched a metaverse platform in collaboration with 30 businesses and 25 celebrities to help businesses make an easier entry into the virtual world of new opportunities.

Over 50 firms, celebs join hands as D.Oasis launches metaverse

As a new technology platform, D.Oasis said it plans to speed up providing facilities for businesses. It has purchased space in the world-class Sandbox Metaverse.

Sandbox Metaverse is a virtual reality blockchain platform that already has several major brands on board, including Adidas, Gucci, HSBC, Atari, Walking Dead, Shibuya109, Snoop Dogg, and Paris Hilton etc.

Metaverse is a collective virtual space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality.

Gartner, a global research firm, has forecast that by 2026, 25 per cent of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media and/or entertainment.

Over 50 firms, celebs join hands as D.Oasis launches metaverse

“Thailand missed the boat with Web 2.0. However, with Web 3.0, we should take the lead and get enterprises into the metaverse as soon as possible,” said Sirikiat Bunworaset, CEO of D.Oasis.

He predicted that in the next eight years, one-third of Thais will enter the metaverse.

Sirikiat has been working in the management consulting business for more than 25 years. He has been focusing on corporate finance, financial modelling, investment planning, corporate strategy, and value-based management.

He emphasised the strong integration of alliances across industries into the same global platform metaverse and has positioned D.Oasis to become one of Asia’s Web 3.0 leaders, with plans to extend its partners in Thailand and Asia to 100 enterprises within the next year.

Sirikiat Bunworaset, CEO of D.Oasis, dressed up as Dante from the game franchise Devil May CrySirikiat Bunworaset, CEO of D.Oasis, dressed up as Dante from the game franchise Devil May Cry

Web 2.0 refers to the internet version that most people are familiar with today. Web 3.0, in this context, refers to blockchain-based decentralised apps.

D.Oasis announced the names of its partners at the launch on Tuesday. They include J Ventures, Index Creative Village, Eventpass, Warrix Sport, Prakit Holdings, Asava Group, Dhurakij Pundit University, LDA World, Mission to the Moon, and Smallroom, etc.

There are also 25 well-known Thai celebrities, business people and athletes who have joined the platform such as Tattoo Color, Polycat, Pyra, Mike Angelo, and Vj Woonsen, etc

Sirikiat said that newcomers to the metaverse don’t have to worry about incurring high expenditure on technology or attracting new consumers because jumping into a platform that already has a client base will allow their businesses to flourish together rapidly.

To grow D.Oasis, Sirikiat said that “Human X Club NFT” has been established to bring together customers and followers of the major celebrities for a privileged event and other activities.

“Human X Club NFT” will host concerts, games, and meetings with celebrities.
D.Oasis aims to profit from the platform’s space as well as the celebrity’s character designs as “Human X Club NFT”.

Over 50 firms, celebs join hands as D.Oasis launches metaverse

NFT is a digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music, in-game items and videos.

D.Oasis is expected to generate around THB40 million from selling 7,000 unique character designs as NFT from the first collection. Each character is priced in the range of THB5,000-7,000, said Sirikiat.

This year, the platform plans to release 4-5 collections. Each collection has different characters, he said.

“The NFT buyers will receive privileges, such as priority to attend a concert, a discount, for instance, or a fan club meeting,” said Sirikiat.

CUSCUS, a well-known designer who creates all of the characters, will produce designs for each celeb. Each celeb will have 100 different designs in “Human X Club NFT”.

Apirak Apisarnthanarak, the managing director of Prakit Holdings, said that Creator District is key to help leverage brand experience in D.Oasis.

The future of the creative advertising world is emerging to provide a space for people with ideas and brands to meet and generate income in the form of create-to-earn, he said.

Dr Darika Lathapipat, Dean of Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU)Dr Darika Lathapipat, Dean of Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU)

In the field of education, Darika Lathapipat, dean of Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU), revealed that DPU is ready to lead Thai youths into the world of Web 3.0. It starts with the creation of the Learn-To-Earn platform, as well as collaborating with D.Oasis to push NFT in the education world for students of all grades, starting this academic year.

Published : May 18, 2022

By : THE NATION