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Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 3

Since the last thread was getting unwieldy in size it has been shut. Please continue the discussion here.

The last few posts from the previous thread are posted below for continuity.

  1. 196 Sri Lanka Harsha Purasinghe
    Dharma,I think I have mentioned this in one of my earlier posts. (which is not visible now, beleive it’s archived)The ideal situation for all of us should have been Standard been established long time ago, and technical implementations of the same happened at that time so by now all of us use standardized sinhala on whatever platform each of us use. If somone either Donald, JC, University or a consortium established the Sinhala standard at that time we will not have these arguments (with technical implementations). I am not in a position to answer the delays behind Sinhala standardization.

    Let me repeat this again I am not defending anyone or any masters as we dont work for anyone. But we followed the Sinhala Unicode and technically implemented it for various use of Sinhala in MS & Mobile Platforms. Same thing I beleive people like Linux, MS, IBM, Orcale will be doing.

    The technical implementation of finalized unicode standard was started about 1 – 1/2 years ago, if am not mistaken so it will take some time to see all these things in place in the marketplace. Windows will support this in Vista, Linux already supports, Oracle supports Sinhala Unicode and so does many other technical implementations. Win XP supports Sinhala Unicode through an enabling pack however the best implementation for MS will arrive with VISTA.

    I think the big mistake ICTA is doing is sleeping rather than coming out and showcasing these solutions to what’s available to general public. If they organize a forum and mini-exhibition to showcase all Sinhala Unicode compliant products/services including emailing among platforms, cut & paste to what not, we can invite all these forum members to showcase the same. Perhaps the same forum can be used to arrange a debate/questioning about the Unicode!

    Newspapers
    ————-
    The best people to answer would be people from ANCL, Wijeya, and Upali where there are 2 people from these organizations who were in the Unicode Task Team if am not mistaken. So they should come and highlight why the papers are not Unicode complaint yet. I dont see an issue but beleive it’s all internal matters which they among themselves needs to finalize.

    Dharma for you to see respective Sinhala Unicode based websites in your PC without downloading, you may have to wait for VISTA where you upgrade to it. Even if another standard get’s established there is no way it will just get established in your PC magically. It applies to JC, Donald and whowever who builds another standard, font or way of working in Sinhala. That too has to be technically accomplished.

    Finally, if it was Donald’s standard which is been accepted by ALL (MS, Linux, Oracle, Googls to local acedamia and private software companies to government) sometime ago we would have implemented the same. But everyone agreed and accepted to work on Sinhala Unicode (SLSI1134) hence we too have established the same to ensure inter operability and also since it’s feasible to technically implement.

  2. 197 Sri Lanka Donald Gaminitillake
    Dear HarshaWhy you always aviod the question. Just going round and round.I have never said UNICODE is wrong but what you registered with unicode consortium is incomplete Sinhala. The whole problem is this.This was pointed out by me and the Sri Lanka association of Printers on the public hearing. 20 odd group incl VKS over ruled us and registered the incomplete set of Sinhala in the UNICODE.(SLSI1134)

    We do have a problem in implementing Sinhala

    Please confirm whther you have a hidden “union” of character table apart from the few characters registered in the unicode = Slsi1134.

    “yes” or “no”

    Even Harsula avoid this question. This was posted last week.(160 and 163 )
    Linux group have proved that there is a”union” .

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  3. 198 Sri Lanka Dharma Gamage
    Harsha,[quote]
    The best people to answer would be people from ANCL, Wijeya, and Upali where there are 2 people from these organizations who were in the Unicode Task Team if am not mistaken. So they should come and highlight why the papers are not Unicode complaint yet.
    [unquote]Yes, the best person to answer this question is Mr. Naveendra Gunaratne from Wijeya Newspapers, who was in the original Sinhala fonts task team and left thoroughly disappointed, because his concerns were never taken seriously by Gihan, Dino and the rest of the team, who had their own agendas. (The ANCL man was only a puppet.)

    However, I do not see any logical reason why any newspaper company should shift to Unicode compatible platform.

    As I said before, if the Unicode supporters want to make Unicode Sinhala, a standard they should first have enough applications to attract users. As long as they do not, the newspapers will use what will bring them better results. The business leaders take decisions based on market.

    Newspapers do not use Oracle or Linux. All they wanted is good font sets to be used in the publishing environment and perhaps relevant applications.

    You cannot force anybody to use Unicode compatible Sinhala fonts sets, if that does not given any advantage over the rest. You cannot hold a gun at the head of a press baron and threaten him to use Unicode.

    Finally, have you seen anywhere that VISTA will support Sinhala? I have not and given what had happened in the past, I have strong doubts about that.

  4. 199 Sri Lanka Donald Gaminitillake
    Dear DharmaThe problem is what Sri Lanka registered with Unicode was a limited set of Sinhala characters.The first person in Sri Lanka who made a Sinhala font is Mr Ravi Peiris now at Ingrin

    Since there is no set of full Sinhala characters registered either in SLSI or in Unicode the software developers are deprived to make any software for sinhala.

    Only I have done and published this document with code points. Since this was done by me in private capacity I do have the copyrights and a patent is pending.

    The code points which are outside the unicode registered area is kept under a blanket called a “UNION” and this list was never published. The content in this “union” differ from one font maker to the other.

    As I have previously mentioned in 178
    Quote
    Only a part is registered balance kept inside a unpublished “union”. Who ever hid these codepoints may had a commercial venure –a monopoly — in the mind or deprive the people in lanka of Sinhala IT education. IT only open for the english speaking group.
    Unquote

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  5. 200 Sri Lanka Dharma Gamage
    Donald/JC,What I cannot understand is, if these guys are so sure about Unicode and SLS 1134, why they waste their time in this forum arguing with you people.Why they have to sell Unicode/SLS 1134 so hard if that is the only solution, as they claim?

222 Comments to Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 3

  1. Dharma Gamage's Gravatar Dharma Gamage
    August 21, 2006 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Donald,

    Did yesterday’s Sunday Leader say anything about Standardizing Sinhala for IT?

  2. August 21, 2006 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Yudishdara on Apr 28th, 2006 at 7:24 pm No 2 of this blog

    http://www.lirneasia.net/2006/04/questioning-ict-myths/

    The contents of the News paper relavent to the certain comments and the origin of this blog.

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  3. JC Ahangama's Gravatar JC Ahangama
    August 21, 2006 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Dharma,

    The main point to note on what Donald says is about the problem of learning English and the alternate native language, whether Sinhala or Tamil. Most Europeans speak three languages. They don’t have double-size brains. We need exposure to the three languages, not nightly tele dramas. maybe using them…

    I met a grad student who arrived here yesterday who failed TOEFL in Sri Lanka. He has been working as an executive in a company over there — a science graduate coming from a suburb of Colombo, not Binþænna. He tried a TOEFL class too but failed. He says the main problem is understanding the accent. This is true. If Sinhala alphabet is taught the way it ought to be, understanding comparative sounds in English is easy. We need to have respect for Sinhala first. And it deserves it because there is NO OTHER LANGUAGE IN THE WORLD that’s got an alphabet so scientifically arranged and described. The west is just discovering finer points of phonetics.

    This is serious. We are isolating Lanka from the rest of the world. And then I met this morning a family (our relatives) who lived in SL until 3 months back who cannot speak a single sentence in Sinhala without gliding into English. The two teenage girls don’t speak Sinhala at all though they went to school in SL!

    Definitely, these people tell a silent story: There’s a social stigma in speaking Sinhala. Colonial subservience die-hard. I suspect people even here are ashamed to WRITE in Sinhala when romanizing is so easy and intuitive. Compare this to Indians here. Wherever they are they speak in their native language. They are proud to be Indians, rightly so. I don’t write in romanized Sinhala here because they might excommunicate like the Google Unicode group did to me for doing so. anee aniccá kanee kadukká.

    To turn to the subject of this forum, proper implementation of IT policies can reverse this trend. Like Donald says, Sinhala language is facing downhill. Without economic reasons to justify it, abandonment would slowly but surely happen.

    The Sunday Leader’s way of doing business is illustrative of limited thinking. They still try to sell subscriptions than selling ads. The Internet has long gone past this experiment. How can you increase readership by telling only the few that would pay could read?

  4. Unbiased's Gravatar Unbiased
    August 21, 2006 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Dear JC,

    I do not think anyone should learn a language just because it is the language of your forefathers or just to respect the feelings of a community.

    One should learn a language only if it helps one in some way. If the younger generation today thinks that learning Sinhala is of no use, fine. Let them work in English.

    Unless otherwise one wants to be a politician or work in a government department, there is absolutely no dire need for anyone to learn Sinhala, apart from few sentences to deal with the office cleaners or three-wheeler drivers. 90% of the content available in Sinhala (both in print and electronic format) is available in English too.

    Sir Arthur Clarke has been living in Sri Lanka since 1960s. He cannot still speak more than few words in Sinhala. Did he lose anything because of that? How he survived without ever bothering to learn any of the local languages?

    If I have time to learn three languages, I would learn English, French and Japanese/Korean/Chinese. There are important reasons to learn these languages.

    For example, if you learn Japanese, you increase your opportunity to get a job in Japan.

    On the other hand, if you learn Sinhala, Tamil or Hindi what are the economically important opportunities you get? There are millions and millions of Hindi speaking people in India. Do they stand even a bit of advantage getting a job than a Sri Lankan who speaks only Sinhalese or Tamil?

    In another, 20-25 years most of the Asian languages will anyway die a natural death. Languages like Gujarati, Marati, Punjabi, Bengali etc will gradually merge to become a monolithic Hindi version. In South India, Tamil, Telegu, Kannada and Malayalam will merge into one language. This is because of the power of communication. Nobody can stop that.

  5. August 21, 2006 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Lets go back to 1978-

    When Sri Lanka was getting assistance for a Television Station from Japan. Minister Hurulle visited Japan. During this time I too had some connections to Nippon Television (NTV Channel 4). NTV had done a multilingual system for Idi Amin in Uganda. NTV wanted to give this technology to Sri Lanka to have tri lingual simultaneous broadcasting at Rupavahini. The Minister declined the offer.

    At least on ICT we got to introduce tri lingual facilities. The Elite again have no interest in the Sinhala Language development. Their intention is to destroy our Language Sinhala.

    We had this problem in Polonaruwa era when Kalinga Marg invaded. Repeated during the Portuguese period. Today this is done by the none other than the Sinhalese themselves.

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  6. Dharma Gamage's Gravatar Dharma Gamage
    August 21, 2006 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Hi Donald,

    I’ve read the Sunday Leader article.

    By your earlier post 202, you are pouring Hydrochloric acid over somebody’s wounds. :-)

    I guess somebody had to answer lots of questions now. I am sure somebody will not be amused by this type of revelations done by Sunday Leader.

  7. August 21, 2006 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    202 was an answer to 201
    But that is where we started this blog

    HCl or H2SO4 facts will be exposed until the Sinhala language (ISO and SLSI) is corrected.

    I think now we have passed 600 level

    Lets hope for the best.

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  8. August 21, 2006 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Quote
    that learning Sinhala is of no use
    unquote

    What a pathetic comment written by a “Sinhalese” — I suppose —

    I will not permit the Sinhala language to die.
    nor the other ethnic indic languages to die either

    First I ony fight for the Sinhala later I will put the rest of the languages into the correct path.

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  9. Unbiased's Gravatar Unbiased
    August 21, 2006 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Dear Donald,

    If you love Sinhala language so much, you will never take patents for its usage anywhere. By taking a patent you obviously restrict the use of a language and put a berrier to its free use and its development.

    If you love your language so much why do not you offer your services free of charge to the nation in designing Sinhala standards and content?

    Why do you keep on requesting money from the government?

    I thought anybody who loves to see ones language thrive will do some voluntary work rather than keep on ranting for money.

    I love my language, but just because I love it, I do not want to force it on anyone else.

    If people do not want to learn Sinhala whom I am to force them?

    If people are more comfortable with conversing Sinhala using Roman characters let them do it. Whom are we to change that?

  10. August 21, 2006 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    If anyone uses my system and make money why cant they pay a royalty?
    This is a right given by the Government of Sri Lanka

    For R&D and for educatonal work no royalties are paid on any copyright or a patent.

    Only it will effect on commercial and Industrial applications

    So your argument is not an issue here.

    Quote
    Why do you keep on requesting money from the government?
    Unquote

    1. They are given funds from WB to develop IT in Sri Lanka.
    2. I am not a “Situwaraya” or a “Bodhisatwa” I need funds to develop the R&D Sinhala.

    What if these rights were taken by the Dinos Group like the DOT LK

    Do you know that they have blocked my Akuru (lk).
    What right do they have to block my “akuru”

    It is a very unehetical act by the ICTA.
    There is no way to resolve this in Sri Lanka.
    We have no Law to fight this and Equal Access to Justice is not there for me.

    This condition too applies to so many developers in Sri Lanka.(re DOT LK)

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  11. JC Ahangama's Gravatar JC Ahangama
    August 21, 2006 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Unbiased,

    I think you have not being equitable or logical in your last entry. Perhaps you did not give it enough thought. It seems like you’d pay Microsoft, the foreigner, but not Donald who wants to sell purportedly something useful. You say “offer your services free of charge to the nation”.

    Such socialist attitudes only pulled us down to the abyss. (It ruined USSR too). Taiwan and Lanka are comparable in literacy rate and population. Extremely few over there speak English or Japanese. Similarly, Koreans do not speak English. They prosper because they promote indigenous effort. In Lanka, people are openly jealous of success.

    I am sure you might have next said that Donald can afford to work free. How would you feel if one tells you that you having sacrificed for some cause?

    I thought you were explaining capitalism when you talked prophetically about how economics would eventually kill Sinhala. Sinhala will live if the industrious are allowed to prosper and not hindered by jealousy. Maybe you were not jealous but that is how it came out. I am sorry if I hurt your feelings, but please think about this.

    And also, why should anyone use pseudonyms when arguing against Donald or me? Come out and speak. The managers know who you are. They see the email address. Why don’t you tell us too who you are. Whom are you afraid of?

  12. Last  Laugh's Gravatar Last Laugh
    August 21, 2006 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Hudee jana pahan sanwegaya udesaa Yudushdara wisin rachana karana lada “VK Wannama” mese newatha mathak kara sitimu.

    ………………………………………………

    Sri Lanka Yudishdara on Apr 28th, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    The dismal failure of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lankan to deliver the goods, even after many years of its operation, to meet the anticipations at its ceremonial inception, can be largely attributed to the pitiable role played by its current Chairman.

    This is an aged Emirates Airlines… sorry, Emeritus Professor beyond the age of seventy and a serious diabetics patient. It is very clear given his health conditions he should be best rest at home and do some social work.

    He has been a bright academic in his younger days, no doubt, but as any medical student would tell you the memory cells start failing at the rate of one percent per every year after the age of just thirty. So definitely an elderly and ailing person cannot give leadership to a national level programme of the size of E Sri Lanka. It is high time that this Emirates Airlines… sorry, Emeritus Professor should go home and start doing something religious for the other world, he would visit sooner than later, after respectfully passing the baton to a dynamic and young leader. He is drawing a comfortable pension from the university and he has no family obligations. So there is no need for him to do a job. Unfortunately this power hungry and cash crazy Emirates Airlines… sorry, Emeritus Professor continue to stay beyond his capabilities.

    Information and Communication Technology is not the science of the old. It is the science of the young. Michael Dell built a multi million company when he was just 32 years old and Bill Gates wrote Windows at the age of 30 years. The Yahoo founders were in their twenties when they did. It is quite possible Sri Lanka is the only country in the world that this type of old and ailing man controls the interests of the computer industry at the national level while the talented young were blocked from getting involved in the Information and Communication technology activities.

    This man is perpetually jealous and feel threatened by the young professionals in the IT industry. (It is a different question why someone at his level should feel threatened by people so young and so junior to him.) He is jealous of so many other bright young professionals in the filed and done everything possible to stop them. This is one of the key reasons why no development in the Information and Communication Technology filed in Sri Lanka. Who wants to develop a field when such align and old avatars blocking every move they take? Who wants to join a programme, when the objectives of the programme are not to do anything good for the society or the country but to build ones own image?

    With pure jealousy this man has blocked so many reputed IT companies moving forward. It is a surprise that companies like Virtusa survived in such an environment. Perhaps it is because Virtusa aimed at the international market and not the local market. This Emirates Airlines… sorry, Emeritus Professor seems to think that any local IT company who has to do a project in Sri Lanka has to give a chunk to him. Otherwise his vicious senile mind finds some way of ruing the opportunities for the domestic companies and pave way for a foreign company. He does not feel threatened with foreign companies because they are outsiders. Only locals worry him.

    This pathetic person is jealous about anyone who wants to achieve something in ones life. He thinks the sole purpose of his creation is to stop anyone else achieving their ambitions. Like the typical Sri Lankans who perpetually suffer in the guardless pit in the hell, he cunningly pulls the leg of anyone who wants to go up. He does not like other people taking patents for their work. He hates to see anyone taking a patent and does his best to stop that.

    Number of patents obtained in a year is an indication that measures the intellectual capacity of a country. Till we get rid of this kind of people, it is difficult to think Sri Lanka will ever be treated by anyone as a country of adequate intellectual capacity.

    According to the Tender guidelines any government agency in Sri Lanka should follow the Executive head or the Chairman cannot be a part of the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) of a deal. This is to prevent any influences to the TEC either political or otherwise. TEC should consist of people only drawn based on their technical capabilities. So it is highly questionable why this Emirates Airlines… sorry, Emeritus Professor so badly wants to be a part of the TEC in a USD 10-15 million deal. Why cannot he just let the technical people give their own decision on the bids than him interfering at the level of TEC?

    Before joining the Information and Communication Technology Agency, this pathetic soul was one of the worst critics of the E Sri Lanka project. Not a single aspect about Information and Communication Agency, from the salaries to projects missed his harsh criticism. These came in many different ways. Many a time they came through the press, through his pal journalists going the extra mile. The most modern technologies like internet and email too were not spared. These also went to the level of mud slinging on the basis of religion, when it comes to qualifications. Please note, very conveniently this man was born a Sinhalese Buddhist. Probably this is the only ‘qualification’ now he has to do what he does and earn a sizable salary from the World Bank. After the government changed he forgot all that and went after the powers to grab the available opportunity by both hands. Now he leads the same institution he once criticized so harshly, without changing anything. It is surprising how people change.

    This is the high time the Sri Lankan Information and Communication Technology professionals realize that nothing worthwhile can happen to the local IT industry unless bottlenecks like these are removed and the leadership in the Information and Communication Technology industry is given to young and dynamic professionals. May be Viagra can make some things work, but even Viagra cannot make old and ailing serpentine characters like this power hungry man any useful to the country.

  13. Last  Laugh's Gravatar Last Laugh
    August 21, 2006 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    test

  14. Last  Laugh's Gravatar Last Laugh
    August 21, 2006 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Can someone who has a password to this article on Sunday Leader copy and paste the article here? I tried with their site but they ask for a password!!

  15. Meaningless's Gravatar Meaningless
    August 22, 2006 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Donald,
    Don’t think this is the end of Dino. He will survive SundayLeader article. Besides SL is not a widely read newspaper. He will probably say that you hired a journo to write this article and still b the good boy to the president.

  16. August 22, 2006 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Do you know the total print of the news papers in Sri Lanka for a day?
    It is less than 300,000 copies.
    We have 19 million people and read less than 300,000 news paper publications per day

    None of the news papers are widely read in Sri Lanka and our reading level is very low.

    Also pls note that I have no relationship to the content of the article nor to the writer.
    I gave the link as this is relavent to this blog.

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  17. Hem and Haw's Gravatar Hem and Haw
    August 22, 2006 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    ICTA myths and tender frauds

    By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

    Overt manipulation and awarding of a tender to a Korean company with the Procurement Board of the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) choosing the highest bidder and paying Rs. 80 million extra for an e development programme has come to light.

    The story dates back to year 2003 when Minister Milinda Moragoda wished to undertake a massive e-Sri Lanka drive. The Korean government also wished to make a contribution towards the initiative but with the change of governments, the process hibernated for a while.

    Loan from Korea

    However, invitation for bids (IFB) was called when the government of Sri Lanka received a loan from the Export-Import Bank of Korea from the resources available at the Economic Development Co-operation (EDCF) of Korea.

    The specific amount received for this purpose was US$15 million (approx. Rs. 1,500,000,000) to finance Lanka Government Network (LGN) project of the e-Sri Lanka Development programme. At this point, the ICTA was selected as the implementing agency and the Cabinet Appointed Tender Board (CATB) on November 1, 2005 called for bids for the design, supply, installation and operation of Lanka Government Network (LGN).

    It was stated that LGN was a highly available, secure and reliable underlying information infrastructure backbone that would connect all the government organisations of the GOSL in a cost effective and secure manner. Initially, 350 locations were identified for connectivity in three phases.

    It was next announced that bidding would be according to International Competitive Bidding (ICB) procedures specified in the “Guidelines for Procurement Under the EDCF Loan, March 2005″ and Government Procurement Guidelines. It was open to all bidders from the Republic of Korea.

    Minimum qualifications

    It was announced that bidders should fulfil the minimum qualification criteria. This meant, the Management Service Provider (MSP) having a minimum of five years experience in the implementation and management of large-scale Wide Area Network (WAN) projects.

    Further, the MSP was to have experience in successful implementation of large scale managed network infrastructure projects with a project value exceeding US$ 10 million, experience in managing and co-originating various stakeholders and enjoying a total annual revenue of minimum US$60 million to establish financial credibility.

    A significant stipulation was the fact that the foreign MSP should have a local alliance/partnership so that the MSP will have legal liabilities for the project.

    Also, it was specified that the MSP should have a registered Sri Lankan business presence or have partners or consortium, operational with adequate staff for a minimum period of five years or more with a proven track record of providing respective managed services.

    For the two stage bidding process, a pre bid meeting was called on November 16, 2005 at the ICTA itself. Bids closed on November 30.

    At this point, a full-fledged consortium, Korean Telecom Network (KTN) submitted its bid for US$ 13.93 million, Samsung Networks Inc. for US 14. 82 million. The other bidder was Korea Exchange Banking Technologies (KEBT).

    According to ICTA sources, it was KTN that submitted a technically convenient bid complete with customers’ sites and survey preparations to the ICTA.

    Then Request For Proposal (RFP) was made and KTN submitted a comprehensive proposal with experts being flown in to the island to assist in mastering the technical aspects of the same.

    Manipulation

    Inside sources say that it was at this level, when evaluation of proposals commenced that serious manipulation began within the ICTA in stark violation of the tender procedures.

    In February last year, when a procurement clarification was sought from the ICTA, Procurement Advisor Christy Perera sent an e-mail response to Samsung titled “Inquiry about the second stage technical proposal format.”

    Samsung had first questioned whether a partnership and a joint venture would be considered one and the same, and next the difference between partners and sub contractors. “Are they the same or do they have different function/relationship?” the company queried, and Perera replied, “No, they are not the same.”

    Further, the clarifying mail sent by ICTA’s Procurement Advisor Perera stated that sub contractors were not involved in signing the contract but should be declared when the proposal is submitted.

    It has now transpired that despite the strong backing received, Samsung Networks did not even fulfil the minimum eligibility criteria specified by ICTA.

    According to the invitation for bids (IFB) of the e-Sri Lanka Development Project (IFBA; ICTA/GOODS/18) it was mandatory for the foreign Manage Service Provider (MSP) to have a local alliance or partnership to ensure that such MSP will have legal liabilities for the project.

    Criteria

    Similarly, the said MSP according to stipulated criteria should have a registered Sri Lankan business presence, or have partners or consortium operational with adequate staff for a minimum period of five years or more with a proven track record of providing respective managed services. Samsung did not possess the above two pre-qualifications, though they were able to go to the next level without being disqualified at the very outset.

    Other bidders now claim that the technical evaluations on both bidding stages were inaccurate and were full of malpractices which were geared towards granting the contract to an already selected company.

    It has now transpired that as per the technical evaluation criteria listed in the tender document, 12 marks were given to experience and expertise of ‘the local partner of the bidder’ whereas Samsung did not actually have a local partner.

    The Sunday Leader has reliably learned that in the case of Samsung Networks bid, the 12 marks have been given to subcontractors and not the local partners. (See document)

    Not only that, there were other misrepresentations at the technical evaluation. The ineligible company had also received two marks given to the bidders’ experience in implementing Economic Development and Co-operation Fund of Korea (EDCF) projects though Samsung Networks has not implemented any EDCF funded projects. Nevertheless Samsung managed to secure full marks.

    There were other issues clouding technical evaluation.

    Investigations

    Our investigations have revealed that KTN had initially objected to the appointment and formation of a technical evaluation committee (TEC) in violation of government stipulated tender guidelines which fell on deaf ears. KTN had objected on the basis of a public finance circular issued by Treasury Secretary P. B. Jayasundera.

    The objection was that according to clause 33.1 of the Procurement Guidelines (as amended by the Public Finance Circular No. 352/10), there was a defect in appointing Chairman, ICTA Prof. V. K. Samaranayake to participate/represent technical evaluation committee of the ICTA itself.

    Jayasundera’s public finance circular issued to all secretaries of ministries, heads of government departments, corporations and statutory boards cautioned them against the inclusion of chief executive officers of such organisations in TEC, as it would undermine the role of other TEC members.

    Referring o Chapter 111 of the Guidelines of Government Tender Procedures (revised edition August 197) regarding the appointment of TEC members, Jayasundera instructed that, “the members of the TEC should feel free to express their independent views and make recommendations to the Tender Board. In this context, the inclusion of chief executive officers (managing director, general manager, chairman etc.) of organisations in TEC tend to undermine the role of other members of TEC drawn from the same organisation. Therefore, you are kindly requested to refrain from nominating or appointing such officers to TEC.” (See document )

    Samsung secures bid

    What is more, it has now transpired that Samsung has managed to secure the bid despite furnishing misleading information for technical evaluation purposes. This despite tender documents specifying ‘misrepresentation of information’ being a fraudulent practice which could disqualify a bidder.

    According to instructions issued to bidders, what is termed a ‘fraudulent practice’ is “a misrepresentation of facts in order to influence a procurement process or the execution of a contract to the detriment of the borrower and includes collusive practices among bidders (prior to or after submission of bids) designed to establish bid prices at artificial, noncompetitive levels and to deprive the borrower of the benefits of free and open competition.”

    Under this stipulation however, it is possible to reject a proposal or to declare ineligibility, either indefinitely or for a stated period of time. However, none of the above occurred in respect of Samsung Networks despite the gross misrepresentations.

    Accordingly, Samsung Networks in their answers to clarifications raised by the ICTA at the first stage of LGN bid evaluation, brazenly declared Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) as their ‘local partner.’ Interestingly enough, the TEC had given full marks for the local partner acting on the basis that SLT was indeed a local partner of Samsung whereas it was only a subcontractor.

    When questioned on the nature of the local presence of Samsung Networks, the company response was in fact a laugh. In a written clarification Samsung said, “once we are awarded this project, we will set up our office and our staff from Korea will be based in Colombo office. Our office in Colombo, local partners and sub contractors will collaborate for the successful implementation and operation of LGN.”

    Local partner

    Having stated that, Samsung added, “our principle partner is Sri Lanka Telecom. MIT, Metropolitan, Softlogic and Advantage Technology will be involved in implementation and operation in some degree.”

    When the bidding process reached second stage whereupon bidders are required to produce their partnership agreements and financial reports, Samsung Networks also managed to alter their original position and declared that they in fact do not have any local partner fearing disqualification at this stage.

    What baffles ICTA insiders themselves is as to why the TEC chose to ignore all the gross misrepresentations, misleading statements and tender procedure violations in this manner. While bidders may try, as they often do, all the tricks in their books, ICTA officials themselves are baffled by the fact that the TEC did not outrightly reject the Samsung bid, but instead lent every possible support for the company to secure the bid.

    When subsequent objections were raised against SLT being principal local partner of Samsung and a subcontractor with another, SLT quickly disassociated itself from the Samsung partnership claim. Instead, it wrote to Chairman, CATB, stating its position.

    In a letter dated November 28, 2005, Chief Marketing Officer, Sri Lanka Telecom, Kapila Chandrasena announced a partnership with Enterprise Technology (Pvt) Ltd.

    More problems

    The Samsung bid however encountered more problems than the above. The two stage procurement guidelines were not properly implemented and followed by the ICTA itself. Other competitors allege that if the bidders were acting according to the tender guidelines of the government, the price bid should have been opened only after the completion of the technical evaluations.

    At this point, ICTA, it is learned had requested the bidders to include the total price in their technical proposals for Stage 2 bidding purposes.

    However, such treatment was not meted out to other competitors. When KTN made representations seeking clarifications from ICTA, not even minutes of the meeting were released to KTN. What is more, the company was also requested to alter their technical solution at this point, according to ICTA insiders.

    Naturally, when the matter reached the next stage — it led to the more technically advanced and superior solutions proposed by KT Networks to be rejected without any valid reasons being provided.

    KTN’s proposal was a state of the art satellite solution to connect all the 350 government-building locations. Considering the fact that most of the locations happened to be in remote areas, the company’s belief was that satellite communication facility was the most viable and suitable method for deploying high bandwidth connections.

    Rejected

    What was more, ICTA was to gain the additional benefit of coming to own the equipment. However, for no apparent reason, the solution was rejected and was told to work out a ‘land line’ solution. ICTA inside sources associated with the process confirmed that Samsung Networks Inc. had proposed only a landline solution.

    When the final marks were announced, KTN objected and sought a revision in the marks. The grouse the company has is that if the revision was done according to the stipulated marking system, KTN should have secured the highest marks and naturally become the more eligible bidder to win the contract for the project. What is more, marks were verbally announced and were not in writing.

    In this highly questionable backdrop, CATB approved Samsung’s proposal and rejected the other two. Following representations made to higher authorities, on May 17, 2006, President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga wrote to KT Networks announcing the disqualification of the company to secure the tender. However, it allowed an opening for the company to make representations to the Procurement Appeal Board (PAB).

    On May 20 this year, Manager, NI Business Marketing Division, Overseas Business Development Department, KT Networks, Yong Jin Kim formally submitting an appeal drew the PAB’s attention to the irregularities in the tender evaluations and even the fraudulent practices.

    Irregularities

    Kim whilst highlighting several major irregularities also questioned the eligibility of Samsung Networks, alleging that if the evaluation was just and impartial, KT Networks was of firm belief that the contract should have been awarded to them.

    “If the evaluation had been just and impartial, we believe that we should have obtained the highest marks for the technical evaluation. Further, our price bid was substantially less than that of Samsung Networks. If the evaluation has been accurate and impartial, we would have got the recommendation which eventually would save a significant amount of money for the Government of Sri Lanka.

    We earnestly request your fair and just evaluation of the representations we are making against the award and recommend our bid which we believe is the technically most compliant and lowest in price.”

    Having charged processing fee of Rs. 50,000, PAB did not offer a valid explanation for such rejection, according to angry ICTA insiders.

    After such a fiasco of manipulating marks and violating tender procedures to ensure success for one bidder, to this date, the tender remains un-awarded, a fact a source from the CATB confirmed. What is more, the ICTA also agrees that though Samsung secured the bid, contract is yet to be granted and says no more.

    The loss to the state is in the range of Rs. 80 million with the selection made, but no matter. KTN and KETB have been unfairly evaluated only to award the tender to the highest bidder. It really must be a sign of a wealthy state, albeit the expenses of war.

    Then again, here is a topic that comes directly under President Mahinda Rajapakse himself.

    ICTA says…

    Speaking to The Sunday Leader, a top ICTA official said that the contract was not awarded to any company yet.

    He said that there were no irregularities in deciding to issue the contract and admitted that the tender process had ended.

    “The cabinet has decided to give the contract to Samsung Networks, but it has not been awarded yet. Some parties allege that there are irregularities in deciding as to whom the contract should have been awarded to. But the procedure adopted was perfectly fine and there was no irregularity as alleged,” he said.

    He said that Samsung Networks had in fact quoted a lesser price than the other company, Korean Telecom Networks (KTN).

    “The amount quoted by the company is not known at the moment, but the amount was certainly less than the amount bid by Korean Telecom Network,” he added.

  18. Spotlight's Gravatar Spotlight
    August 22, 2006 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Oh Man!!!!!!!

    What a sensational discovery. Manju must be having the last laugh now. Prof missed a chance of a decent death after his career. Now hero has become the villain. Pity.!!!!!

  19. Thoppi Velenda's Gravatar Thoppi Velenda
    August 22, 2006 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Meaningless. Dino has a skin 6 inches thick. There is no point trying to beat an animal with such a thick skin. He wont feel anything.

    What Donald can do is to use “Heen Seraya”. Find a katussa and put it to Dino’s nose. (As described in that famous book)

  20. August 22, 2006 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    “Heen Seraya” is a mouse getting into the trunk of an elephant.

    Dino holds the mouse must request “Sumsung” to make one to run around

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  21. August 22, 2006 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    How nice to see everyone is active again.

    Lets get back to the topic

    Please answer the question posted in 183.

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  22. August 22, 2006 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    This thread is closed for comments. A new thread has been started. Please continue your discussions there.

  1. By on August 22, 2006 at 5:03 pm
  2. By on October 14, 2006 at 3:16 pm

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