‘Bag-gate’ as minister spots spy camera

[TamilNet, Thursday, 18 July 2002, 17:37 GMT]
Acrimony between Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Parliamentary government took a bizarre twist Thursday when a cabinet minister accused her of using a spy camera concealed in her handbag to tape a cabinet meeting.

Commerce Minister Ravi Karunanayake alleged that Kumaratunga had carried a special ladies' handbag fitted with microphones and a video camera capable of filming in low light at Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

"I saw the bag as I was tabling the documents at the meeting," Karunanyake was quoted by India Abroad News Service (IANS) as saying.

"I recognised it at once from the description and photographs I had. This will be the 'Bag-gate' of Sri Lanka," the Minister said.

Karunanayake had recognised the handbag from descriptions given in documents regarding its purchase by police intelligence officials, IANS reported.

The Daily Mirror reported Thursday that when the purchase of his arch rival’s handbag - reportedly at several million rupees - was raised, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said it should be referred to the Defence Ministry.

However, the president's spokesman, Harim Peiris, said he would not confirm the purchase of such a handbag.

"I am surprised that the minister has nothing more important to do than worry about handbags," Peiris was quoted by IANS as saying. "I am surprised that this is the extent of the government's political agenda.”

"If the minister wants details of the president's wardrobe and accessories, he can write to us and we will let him have it," he said.


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