Battle of the Ks
By Frederica Jansz
Weaving a web of deceit, President Chandrika Kumaratunga can deny till blue in the face that she never met with Kumari Cooray, the lady in center stage of a conspiracy involving video tapes and lies. But interesting snippets of a two hour conversation and telephone records are more than proof that Kumari of the two women, is not, Baron Munchausen, whose amusingly preposterous stories or lies winningly told, have gone down in history as tales that could not tell the truth even by accident.
Having first professed she could not remember the exact date when she met with the President, Kumari Cooray now says she can more or less be certain it was 'last month on April 20,' almost on the eve of the parliamentary election for speaker which was held on the 22nd.
This week we have evidence to prove that Kumaratunga indeed used state resources to convince Cooray to act as a kind of local 'Lewinsky' and thereby ensure the downfall of Leader, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Rauf Hakeem with a view to helping her secure a parliamentary working majority.
Caught on camera
Photographs we carry today show Media Adviser to Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Ruwan Ferdinandez standing by Kumari inside parliament while she waited to hand over a damning letter to Rauf Hakeem written on the President's instructions. Video footage courtesy of the Independent Television Network which was telecast 'live' also shows Ferdinandez giving Kumari a little shove when Hakeem was spotted approaching the parliamentary ground floor lifts. The video film then captures Ferdinandez leaving with Kumari after she had handed over the letter to the SLMC chief. Kumari was thereafter taken to the public gallery and seated while Ferdinandez stood guard. The video footage bears evidence, which corroborates the story revealed by Kumari over Sirasa TV which shocked the nation, especially over the conduct of the President and her confidants.
Thus evidence alone substantiates claims made by Kumari in the television interview over Sirasa TV that she was unduly influenced by the President to make serious charges against Hakeem with a view to ensuring his ouster as SLMC chief and later directed Minister Mangala Samaraweera to facilitate her visit to parliament with a view to confronting the SLMC Leader in front of state television cameras.
Kumaratunga for all her denials cannot decry the images captured by professional cameras she herself ordered positioned near the parliamentary lifts to document the all important handover of the damning letter to Hakeem.
Gave game away
Ever since this story broke, if anyone has given the game away it has been the state media. Pummeled into complete obsequiousness, the state media has been serving as mere lackeys to the whims and fancies of a President gone quite, quite mad.
And it is they, who despite Kumaratunga's insistence that she never met with Kumari Cooray who continue to bear visual proof that indeed Kumaratunga stooped low and scraped the barrel when she mothered a plot of sex and lies to destroy the SLMC Chief.
Circumstantial evidence gathered by us proves that Kumaratunga is blatantly lying when she claims she never met with Kumari Cooray or had any hand in the shameful saga.
A breakdown of the SLMC's Brutus, Wanni District MP, Reshad Badurdeen's mobile phone bill displays that Badurdeen telephoned the President on her personal mobile phone number, 0777-736104 six times on April 22nd during the election of speaker for parliament. This corroborates a statement made by Kumari that Badurdeen had boasted to her that after he cast his vote in favour of the UPFA candidate for speaker that he telephoned the President direct and informed her, 'I have done my part.'
The telephone number 0777-736104 is registered under the name of the Presidential Secretariat with all incoming calls being free of charge.
The two SLMC rebels, Badurdeen and his partner in crime M. Najeeb, in fact gave Kumari the mobile phone number of the President as well as another land phone number, 2623720 for Kumari to call the Head of State whenever she felt the need to do so.
The President herself Kumari has said asked her in the presence of Reshad and Najeeb to call her anytime for assistance.
More evidence the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) would do well to investigate is a handwritten note M. Najeeb, Trincomalee District MP gave Kumari with the personal telephone number of Mangala Samaraweera, 0777-576495. Kumari was also given a home telephone number for Samaraweera - 5367704. Kumari says each time she telephoned Samaraweera at this number a male calling himself 'Pradeep' answered the phone.
The highlight of this entire intriguing episode was when Kumari was taken to meet with President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The meeting was scheduled for 4.30 p.m., but true to form Kumaratunga was late and bustled in at around 6 p.m. saying a meeting with an ambassador had delayed her. This must surely ring a bell for some members of the diplomatic corps who would certainly be aware, which diplomatic head of mission met with Kumaratunga on April 20th.
Proof of meeting
Some of the trivia uttered by the President during her two hour meeting with Kumari is not fit for publication. But excerpts of the conversation, which we reproduce today is indeed proof of the meeting. None other than the President's son Vimukthi can no doubt verify the truth or lie of incidents involving himself, which his mother chose to relate to Kumari that eventful day.
For instance during the course of the meeting Kumaratunga had said she had received a phone call from her son in the UK, where he had said she had not yet 'sent the money.' Kumaratunga had proceeded to say she hoped to send the money the following day.
If the CID, which has been commissioned by Mangala Samaraweera to carry out a full investigation into this story is sincere in reaching any conclusive findings then it can very easily verify if indeed Kumaratunga transferred cash towards her son's education in the UK on April 21, 2004 or thereabouts. And, if Vimukthi Kumaratunga, received such monies.
The President has flatly denied having ever met with Kumari Cooray. But the tit-bits of family gossip the President chose to impart to Kumari that day will doubtless prove to Vimukthi Kumaratunga if no other, the truth or lie of his mother's statement that she never met with Kumari Cooray.
The President for reasons known only to herself, also decided to confide in Kumari telling her, 'you know my son is 21 years old, but he has never had a girlfriend. when I asked him why he said 'I will find a girl once and for all to get married'.' Well, Vimukthi will certainly be in a position to corroborate the truth or lie of that little bit of motherly concern.
The President then referring to an incident having taken place in London involving her son went onto tell Kumari that Vimukthi had apparently used a vehicle owned by the Sri Lankan embassy in London and that as a result she has had to take flak. 'In the rest of the world the children of other heads of state can use diplomatic vehicles when in other countries, but when my children do it such a fuss is made.' Kumaratunga had moaned to Kumari. A check by the CID with the Sri Lankan mission in the UK will no doubt verify the truth of this bit of information as well.
Kumaratunga had then promised Kumari that she would buy her a flat in Colombo. 'Treat me like your mother.' she had entreated her, also telling Kumari her birthday was coming up in June. The President had then gone onto say that she could not buy her an apartment at two places because of the notoriety associated with them.
'I also cannot buy you a flat at Crescat because some of the ministers frequent those flats - but don't worry I will buy you a nice apartment,' she had said, dangling one lucrative carrot after another in Kumari's face.
This very illuminating conversation into the President's character ended with Kumaratunga telling Kumari she had to end the visit as she was scheduled to meet with the Buddhist monks of the Jathika Hela Urumaya. Kumaratunga did indeed meet with the monks very late on the night of April 20th, in a bid to lobby their support for her nominee for speaker.
Meanwhile, Kumari was instructed to use the name 'Ekanayake' when staying at the Continental Hotel and to sign all bills in that fictitious name. Kumari was told the President would pick up the tab on all bills and she duly followed suit. However, Kumari recalls having mistakenly signed one bill as K. Cooray. Hotel records will certainly have this bill as evidence unless of course the management has chosen to destroy the damning chit that would needless to say, seriously implicate the Head of State in a plot that is nothing short of being disgraceful.
Other circumstantial evidence, which proves Kumaratunga met with Kumari is revealed in a taped conversation the other SLMC Judas in this saga, M. Najeeb had with Kumari. Excerpts of this taped conversation, which we reproduce today elsewhere on our pages reveals Najeeb asking Kumari, 'did you meet with the President after that?' To which Kumari replies, 'No, I did not meet her after that.' which is a clear indication that Kumari had already met with the President at least once.
Meanwhile, sources within the home of Reshad Badurdeen, Wanni District MP, unhappy at Badurdeen's betrayal of the SLMC chief, have secured a breakdown of Badurdeen's Dialog mobile phone bill.
This bill is ample testimony to the role enacted by President Kumaratunga and Minister Mangala Samaraweera in the conspiracy.
The phone bill in fact corroborates the statements already made by Kumari. According to this bill, April 21st, Badurdeen had called Samaraweera on his mobile phone number 0777-576495. The call had been placed on the 21st night and Badurdeen has been billed Rs. 23 for the call. In fact Badurdeen called Samaraweera twice on April 21st, from his mobile to Samaraweera's mobile phone.
Then on April 22nd also, Badurdeen has telephoned Samaraweera throughout the day no less than five times from the time parliamentary sessions began until the final vote was counted for the election of speaker. It is on this day that Badurdeen's phone bill displays that he also telephoned the President's personal mobile phone number, 0777-736104, six times. This is corroborated by what he told Kumari that he telephoned the President and told her he had done his part in voting for the UPFA candidate for Speaker D. E. W. Gunasekera. On April 27th too, Badurdeen's phone bill indicates he telephoned Samaraweera at night. It is on this day that Kumari secretly filmed the two SLMC Brutuses, Badurdeen and Najeeb while they were visiting her at her hotel room at the Continental. The video footage clearly shows Badurdeen speaking on his mobile to Samaraweera. The film captures a switched on ceiling light inside the room, which indicates the time of day was night. According to Badurdeen's phone bill his call to Samaraweera that day was made around 8.30 p.m.
More circumstantial evidence we unearthed further incriminates Kumaratunga's role in this soap opera style saga. According to Badurdeen's mobile phone bill from April 14th to the 19th he has repeatedly telephoned Kumari at her home at Ja-Ela on phone number 4832337. That is after the confession on camera she was asked to make damning Hakeem, which the state television proved by telecasting after The Sunday Leader expose on May 16, almost 32 days after the recording.
According to his mobile phone bill, Badurdeen telephoned Kumari at her Ja-Ela home twice on the 16th, twice on the 18th and twice on the 19th. We are in fact certain that on April 19th Badurdeen called Kumari at this number to inform her that the appointment with President Chandrika Kumaratunga was confirmed for the following day April 20th.
And on the 20th, Badurdeen calls Kumari in the afternoon asking her to be dressed for the meeting with the President. That call is also reflected in the bill found by his irate family. All these details corroborate Kumari's version of events revealed over Sirasa TV.
After meeting with the President, Kumari was taken to the Continental Hotel and Badurdeen's phone bill displays the repeated phone calls he made to the hotel on number 2441221 once again confirming her version, she was housed at the hotel. There are no more calls made to her Ja-Ela residence thereafter. The whole saga took a three-degree turn when Kumaratunga failed in her desperate bid to get D. E. W. Gunasekera appointed as speaker of the House. She dropped Kumari like a hot potato thereafter and Kumari soon learnt that to make deals with Kumaratunga is like hoping for a sunset in Greenland.