A brave step into the unknown that comes good
By Chandani Kirinde
A well-known Sri Lankan businessman who took out full-page advertisements in seven local daily newspapers to congratulate US President George W. Bush even before he was re-elected says it was an "investment made on behalf of the entire nation" and the million rupees he spent on them would be a great help to the people of Sri Lanka.

"This was in appreciation of what George W. Bush done for our country. He put pressure on both parties – the government and the LTTE – to end the war and as a result we have peace in our country today", the businessman, A.S.P. Liyanage who was one of the country's leading property developers and real estate agents said.

Subsequent to the US election Mr. Liyanage has no qualms about spending more money to honour the newly re-elected US leader and is planning a celebration bash to which he hopes to invite many important persons in the country including some local politicians.

Mr. Liyanage 's advertisements, which he himself designed, appeared in many of the Sinhala and English dailies on November 1, the day before the US election much to the bemusement of many people who wondered why a Sri Lankan businessman was spending so much money to congratulate a US Presidential candidate who many polls had predicted could lose his re-election bid.

On the day the advertisements appeared, Mr. Liyanage's office received as many as 128 calls including some from Americans and they had the same question from him.

"I took all the calls personally and there were many who were critical of my move. But many of them agreed with me when I explained to them that more than 65,000 people had died in Sri Lanka's civil war in the last 20 years and how the visits to our country of US government representatives like Christine Rocca and Richard Armitage and who pressured the parties involved in the conflict to come to a settlement", Mr. Liyanage told The Sunday Times in an interview.

When asked how he had been so sure of a win for President Bush, Mr. Liyanage who was yet to visit the US, said he was a positive person and although he himself believed in astrology, he decided to ignore the astrological and poll predictions of a win for Mr. Bush's opponent and take the risk of putting an advertisement prior to the US election day.

"Even my family members thought it was a bad idea but within 24 hours after the thought came to my mind, I called my advertising manager and told him of my plan. He too thought it was a bad idea but I was adamant to go ahead with the move.

''My advertising manager had a hard time getting the advertisement accepted at many of the newspaper offices while some of them even suggesting that the word ‘Congratulations’ be changed to ‘Best wishes’, as there was no guarantee Mr. Bush would win.

"I insisted that it was my money and the ad should appear the way I designed it and that is what finally happened", Mr. Liyanage said. Asked if he hoped to hear from the US President about his unusual gesture, Mr. Liyanage said there was a possibility this might happen.

"President Bush in his first term managed to end the war in Sri Lanka and I think in his second term he will help to bring about permanent peace to our country," he said. Strangely Mr. Liyanage has not taken out any similar advertisements in support of Sri Lankan politicians and ruled out any political ambitions of his own.

American grapes to tickle Lankan taste buds
US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jeffrey J. Lunstead said his country would continue its work to bring about peace in Sri Lanka and further foster the growing relations between the two countries.

He said there were many areas of co-operation between the two countries and more economic prospects between the two countries. The Ambassador made these comments in Colombo while answering queries from journalists when he participated in the promotion of Californian grapes, which were introduced to the Sri Lankan market last Friday.

The Ambassador welcomed the initiative to introduce locals to this healthy and delicious American export.

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