AdFest Cancels Thailand Show Due to Political Unrest

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Peach Exhibition and Convention Hall
Peach Exhibition and Convention Hall Credit: Normandy Madden
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Thanks to Thailand's stormy political outlook, which could easily turn violent, AdFest has cancelled this month's festival, one of Asia's top annual gatherings for the ad industry, but hopes to reschedule the event in May.

"I'm betting against people's psychology. We don't want to throw a party and have no one show up," said Vinit Suraphongchai, AdFest's founder and chairman of the working committee in Bangkok.

The festival is held annually in Pattaya, a seaside resort town about two hours south from Bangkok by car. This year's dates—March 18-20—are right after violent protests may take place in Pattaya.

Thailand is polarized between urban and educated Thais, including the military and business elite supporting King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's shaky, six-party coalition, and rural supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Ousted in a 2006 coup, the former premier wants to regain power in Thailand, where he remains popular among his core constituents, mostly poor and uneducated Thais. Since he was deposed, protests have erupted several times. In November 2008, for example, anti-government protesters took control of Bangkok's international airport, stranding over 100,000 passengers for more than a week and wrecking Thailand's tourism industry.

The current crisis was sparked by a move by Thailand's top court to confiscate $1.4 billion in frozen assets from the former premier. His supporters have scheduled a three-day rally in Bangkok for March 12-14 just days before AdFest was due to start.

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