By D.B.S. Jeyaraj
"Man, proud man, Drest in a little brief authority, Most
ignorant of what hes most assured, His glassy essence , like an angry ape, Plays
such fantastic tricks before high heaven, As make the angels weep";
William Shakespeare (Measure for measure)
Kathiravel Nythiananda Douglas
Devanandas tryst with destiny came when the founder leader of the Eelam
Peoples Democratic Party met with Ranjan Wijeratne then deputy defence minister
under President Ranasinghe Premadasa at a posh Cinnamon Gardens bungalow nearly twelve
years ago for a confidential discussion that lasted for nearly three hours. The meeting
had been arranged by Sri Lankan intelligence officials. Accompanied only by his former
deputy Nadarajah Atputharaja alias Ramesh, the down but not yet out Devananda
made an offer that the unconventionally dynamic Wijeratne could not refuse. Devananda was
prepared to place at the governments command the full cooperation and unstinted
support of his newly formed organization in return for protection and support.
The offer was path-breaking at that time as no Tamil militant
organization had until then come forward to help the main enemy directly. But
Douglas like Barkis was willing! The Indian Armys phased out withdrawal was at its
tail end; the Varadarajapperumal led Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation
Fronts North - Eastern Provincial administration was tottering on its last legs; the
honeymoon phase of talks between the Premadasa regime and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam was growing stale; full scale war erupting between the government and LTTE or the
government and EPRLF or among all three was a distinct possibility. An offer of assistance
by a Tamil militant outfit could be beneficial in a war scenario. It was advantageous to
Colombo then to procure the dubious services of Devananda. Preliminary arrangements were
Within months the EPRLF administration was dismissed and thereafter war
broke out between the government and the tigers. Douglas Devananda was in business. EPDP
cadres scattered in several parts of India and Sri Lanka began to converge in Colombo.
Devananda also went in for new recruits and dissidents from other groups. Soon he had more
than three hundred cadres at his disposal. Apart from outright block grants of money by
the state ,arrangements were also made to pay monthly allowances of 3000 rupees per cadre.
The EPDP also engaged in propaganda for the state in both the print and electronic media.
As war progressed the LTTE abandoned the Islands off the northern peninsula because they
were militarily unimportant in the words of former tiger political wing leader
Yogi. This was Devanandas opportunity. Douglas and his boys arrived with food and
provisions by sea and set foot after many years in the North. The Islands were entrusted
to the EPDPs care by the government. That stranglehold remains to date and the EPDP
has not looked back since.
The agreement arrived at with the government then was like manna from
heaven to Devananda. It was only some weeks before that he had arrived in Colombo with two
comrades from Chennai (then Madras). He was wearing rubber slippers and had only a
knapsack carrying some clothes and documents. His political fortunes were at a low ebb.
The offer to help the government was born through desperation. The bold gamble worked and
then bloomed successfully after war broke out with the tigers. Devananda was criticised
severely then for betraying the Tamil cause and openly collaborating with the enemy.
Yet, as time went on other groups like the Tamil Eelam Liberation
Organization, Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam and the Razeek faction
of the EPRLF also began to cooperate militarily with the government. Some groups claim now
that they are no longer engaged in military assistance and that only break away elements
from their groups are with the government now. Some of these splinter groups like the
Mohan faction in Batticaloa for example have been absorbed into the armed forces and hold
Unlike these groups who became totally subservient to the state and
became part and parcel of the armed forces for remuneration Devananda maintained some form
of independence from the start. In recent times his cadres do not engage in any joint
exercises or military activities with the armed forces. It has been to Devanandas
credit that he did not let the EPDP deteriorate into a stark mercenary outfit devoid of
political content alone. He aimed high and sought to establish a financial empire by
exploiting the off shore Islands restricted economies first. Thereafter he went
after political power and got the EPDP ensconced in Parliament utilising his grip on the
Islands. The last Parliamentary elections gave him further leverage when he helped
Kumaratunga form a government. In return he obtained a cabinet portfolio that catered
mainly to Tamil needs and interests. He is perhaps the most powerful official
Devanandas rise to power and office from obscure origins during
the past decade provides a tragic insight into the fate of armed Tamil militancy. While
one defiant and dominant strand in the form of the LTTE continues to struggle in a
sacrificial and dedicated mode towards the goal of Tamil liberation, the likes of
Devananda have become the very anti - thesis of this objective. After discarding the
ideology of secession for practical reasons
Douglas Devananda did not let any inhibitions stand in his way as he
pursued his objectives with single minded devotion.Devananda like Miltons prince of
darkness is a fallen angel. His family hailed originally from Chunnakam but later moved to
Athiaddy in Jaffna town. The LTTEs shadow cabinet minister for cultural affairs, the
well known Tamil poet Puthuvai Rathinadurai was to refer derisively to Douglas later as
the Athiaddy Kuthiyan ( The hunk of Athiaddy). Devanandas father
Kathiravel was a white collar employee of the Petroleum corporation. The family like many
others of the clan (ex - senator Nagalingam) were ardent supporters of the Lanka Sama
Samaaja Party. Devanandas paternal uncle was the well known trade unionist and
activist K C Nythiananda. Devananda spent most of his childhood years with Nythiananda at
17 Frances Road in Colombo 6. The bachelor Nythiananda virtually adopted Devananda who
studied at Colombo Hindu College then. Devananda was no academic bright light but learned
rudimentary politics from his uncle. Devananda went on to include both Nythianandas
name as well as his nom de guerre in the movement Douglas as parts of his official name
The seventies was a period of political ferment for the Tamils. The old
left, lost its lustre because of its unashamed cohabitation with the Sri Lanka Freedom
Party. Leftist stalwarts like Nythiananda metamorphosed into Tamil nationalists. The 1977
violence led to Nythiananda and the well known human rights lawyer Kandasamy forming the
Tamil refugee rehabilitation organization. The Tamil youth too were getting radicalised.
Secession and armed struggle to achieve it was the credo of the youth. Devananda also was
not immune to these currents. He joined the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students
and thanks to his mentor, another erstwhile Trotskyite, Eliathamby Ratnasabapathy went to
Lebanon and obtained military training with the Palestinians. After returning from the
middle -east Devananda along with Pathmanabha and others broke away from the EROS and
formed the General Union of Eelam Students (GUES) that was to be the forerunner of the
Devanandas indulgence in pre - 1983 militancy was short-lived. He
led a not so successful robbery of the Thirukkovil bank in the Amparai district but was
caught by a Muslim civilian when fleeing at Akkaraipattu. Jailed at Welikade, Devananda
like Panagoda Maheswaran and others fought tooth and nail to escape death at the hands of
Sinhala convicts in July 1983. Transferred to Batticaloa Devananda played a crucial role
in engineering the break out from within. Escaping to India he underwent Indian training
also and then formed the military wing of the EPRLF the Peoples Liberation Army.
Douglas was the first PLA commander. The PLAs military track record was not very
impressive and its most ambitious project, the attack under Douglass command on the
navy installation at Karainagar was a disaster. Douglas lost a cousin sister Shobha
(the first woman cadre martyr in the struggle) as well as his second in command Sinnavan
among other casualties in the abortive attempt.
Soon sharp differences arose between Devananda the military chief and
Pathmanabha the political commissar of the EPRLF. The movement in practical terms was
split vertically. The EPRLF politbureau removed Douglas from his post and appointed
Gaffoor as military commander. This resulted in Devananda travelling in late 1986 to
Madras to meet Pathmanabha and resolve matters. While Douglas was staying at Choolaimedhu
in Chennai there arose an unsavoury incident where a mob was instigated by interested
parties into attacking the EPRLF backed office the Eelam Peoples Information Centre.
Devananda fired at the mob and an Indian Tamil lawyer was killed. Douglas was arrested.
Meanwhile the LTTE began asserting itself against other groups. Earlier
Devananda had established a non - confrontational relationship in Jaffna with former tiger
Jaffna chief Kittu. But with Devanandas departure from Jaffna the relationship
soured and in December 1986 full scale hostilities between the EPRLF and LTTE flared up.
The EPRLF in Jaffna was virtually annihilated and its military commander Gaffoor killed.
Devananda was blamed indirectly for this debacle. One charge was that he had depleted the
strength of the EPRLF in Jaffna by sending home all the cadres from the Wanni and Eastern
province prior to his departure to India. Another was that all the mortars and RPGs
in the EPRLF arsenal had been dumped or hidden by Devananda and his
supporters. The third was that Devanandas loyalists had not fought back and simply
slipped away into hiding when the onslaught began. All these made the EPRLF a sitting
duck, it was charged.
Under these circumstances the EPRLF split became permanent. After his
release on bail Devanandas faction and a PLOTE dissident faction led by Thangarajah
alias Paranthan Rajan came together and formed the Eelam National Democratic Liberation
Front. The Indo - Lanka accord and its aftermath led to this front collapsing. To his
credit Devananda took up a firm Tamil nationalist stance and condemned New Delhi for its
ill advised venture. Devanandas position on the Indo - Lanka accord was very much
akin to that of the LTTE then. This assertion of Independence cost Devananda greatly as
the pro-Indian Paranthan Rajan ingratiated himself with New Delhi at Devanandas
expense. A friendless Devananda and cadres were left to fend for their own.
This phase was perhaps the nadir of Devanandas fortunes. He
formed the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party in Madras but found himself pathetically
short of funds. The EPRLF had never been a source of unlimited funds but the situation now
was pitiful. A desperate Devananda was compelled to engage in extortion and kidnapping of
Sri Lankan Tamils in Madras to extract money. He was arrested on a kidnapping charge and
tasted prison life again. This episode earned him the negative sobriquet pillaipidikaran
(kidnapper) among Tamil circles. After securing a temporary release from Prison Devananda
jumped bail and returned to Sri Lanka where he soon dialogued with intelligence officials
and struck a deal with Ranjan Wijeratne.
Life thereafter was on the ascendant for Douglas. Utilising the control
he had over the off shore Islands Devananda began transporting sea food to Colombo. A
lucrative trade in dried fish was established. The transport of goods to and from the
Islands were another source of revenue. A system of taxation was also imposed. In
addition, wealthy Tamils in Colombo were extorted into donating money too. All this earned
Douglas a lot of money. He next moved into the Parliamentary arena fielding an Independent
list of EPDP and UNP candidates in 1994. The captive voters of the off shore Islands
cast their votes overwhelmingly for Douglas. Since the bulk of Jaffna voters
were under LTTE control and therefore did not vote the EPDP list with about 10,000 votes
went on to gain nine seats.
Using this bloc as a political instrument Devananda began supporting
Kumaratunga and extracting concessions in return. In 1998 the EPDP contested local
authority elections in Jaffna and won 10 out of 17 including the three Pradeshiya Sabhas
in the Islands. He was able to get quite close to Kumaratunga at the time of the
presidential elections in 1999. While almost the entire Tamil community voted against
Kumaratunga, Devananda and his minions supported her and what is more managed
to garner 50,000 plus votes for her in Jaffna under mysterious circumstances. Last
years Parliamentary elections saw Devananda get 4 seats in Jaffna amid widespread
charges of rigging. Again he came to the rescue of Kumaratunga and along with Rauff Hakim
became Queen maker. In return he obtained a powerful portfolio comprising Northern
rehabilitation and reconstruction, North - eastern Tamil affairs and Hindu Religion and
Culture. Unlike Hakeem, Devananda has remained and continues to be loyal to Kumaratunga.
There are no illusions however about his loyalty being steadfast in the
event that the UNP romps home to power. He and his lieutenants have been quite candid
about the fact that they will switch loyalties if necessary. This has led to people
ranging from the UNPs Maheswaran to the TULFs Anandasangari ranting and raving
that they will not allow Devananda to join a UNP dispensation after the elections. But
Devananda may have the last laugh here.
Devananda in his capacity as cabinet minister has been endowed with
quite a lot of finances supposedly for rehabilitation and development of the Tamil areas.
He has distributed much of these financial allocation to many different causes against the
backdrop of hitherto unproven charges of corruption. Schools, temples, libraries,
community centres etc are largely the beneficiaries of Devanandas doles.
One condition for these handouts is that the applicants or more
appropriately supplicants must present themselves personally at the former Sridhar theatre
on Stanley Road Jaffna where Devananda holds court. Incidently, Devananda has transferred
the power center of his ministry to Jaffna and is perhaps the first cabinet minister in
Sri Lanka to effectively de-centralise functional authority. He stations himself in Jaffna
for most of his time and has to a limited extent succeeded in being the first minister to
go to the periphery instead of centralising everything.
Persons who are not prepared to present themselves personally before
Devananda do not get any favours or grants from him no matter how deserving their case is.
This for example was the plight of the St. Patricks College rector who wanted to
retain his self-respect. Furthermore, all beneficiaries are required to place large
advertisements in Jaffna newspapers praising the minister for his generosity in doling out
government funds that are after all the tax payers money. There have also been a lot of
minor construction projects and as a result many contracts to be distributed also.
Furthermore, there is the employment factor. Although direct government jobs are scarce
Devananda has introduced many volunteer employment schemes ranging from
Samurdhi to Health volunteers.
Devananda has also taken the changing social structure of Jaffna into
account. The Vellala community that was at the apex of the caste-class structure still
remains the single largest caste but it is no longer as numerous as it was. The pre - 1983
period saw the Vellalas comprise about 55% to 60 % of the total population. Migration to
the South and abroad has resulted in this caste being reduced to around 35% to 40 % now.
This has increased the percentage ratio of the other castes particularly the so called
socially inferior castes. Most of these castes did not go abroad or migrate to the South
but remained in Jaffna. In earlier times this five caste bloc known as panchamar
comprised about 25% to 30 % of Jaffna. Individually these castes are still numerically
lower than the Vellalas but taken together may be about 40% to 45 % now. Since very few of
these castes have gone abroad these families do not receive any foreign money and are
dependent on employment locally. The fishing community deprived of full employment through
various restrictions are also facing difficulties.
Caste based vote
Reports from Jaffna indicate that while the TULF and Tamil Congress
cater to the so called upper castes the EPDP under Devananda has focussed on these so
called lower castes and worked for their upliftment. The Tamil national alliance can make
inroads into this caste based vote bank through the TELO and EPRLF only. Historically
these castes have been pro - LSSP or pro - Communist and very seldom voted for the
Congress Federal Party or later the TULF in bulk although representatives of these
groupings have been active on their platforms. The initial stages of Tamil militancy also
saw casteism existing with much of the so called lower castes going into the EPRLF, TELO
and EROS as opposed to the LTTE or PLOTE. Subsequently, the LTTE developed into a giant
organization that embraced all castes and now a large number of tiger cadres are from
these castes. Thus the EPDP has been politically astute in focussing on this caste factor
and has a vote bank here.
In addition to this vote bank and the genuine support it hopes to
garner through doling out money for development and jobs etc there is also the captive
vote bank in the Islands. The Pradeshiya divisions of Kayts, Velanai and Delft are under
total EPDP control. The last election saw the electoral division of Kayts that comprises
all three Pradeshiya Sabhas register a very high rate of voting. The EPDP got a five
figure vote tally here. This was in stark contrast to other divisions where the party got
only four figure amounts. The other parties fear that the EPDP may utilise the Kayts
card to the maximum in this poll. Also the EPDP by virtue of Devanandas
portfolio enjoys the full support of state patronage from the armed forces, police and
bureaucracy. All these factors could be harnessed to ensure its victory. Moreover, reports
from the North indicate that many types of election incentives from cash to gifts are
being offered. Government funds are freely available and the EPDP is exploiting the
situation to the maximum.
The presence therefore of a genuine vote bank along with the captive
votes of Kayts and the possibility of large scale vote tampering suggests that the EPDP
could get anything from 2 to 7 seats in the Peninsula. Devananda is also doling out jobs
and cash for development in the other Tamil areas too though not to the extent as in
Jaffna. Given its intensive campaigning in the Wanni and Amparai it may get another two.
The incremental votes of Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Colombo may give it one national list
seat too. The best case scenario for Devananda is that he may get up to ten depending of
course on how free and fair the election is going to be particularly in the Peninsula.
The only way that Devanandas electoral efforts can be thwarted is
for the Tamil voters to realise the gravity of the situation and act accordingly. The
composition of the Tamil national alliance and its political approach leaves much to be
desired but nevertheless it is the better alternative in the long run. What Devananda has
to offer at present is cash and gifts and jobs to tide over the immediate problems caused
by the war.
A lasting remedy and solution can only be the end of the war. For that,
meaningful talks with the LTTE is necessary. Such a possibility is virtually impossible as
long as the Kumaratunga - Wickremanayake - Kadirgamar trio is in power. The Tamil national
alliance in the North - East offers the Tamil people an opportunity to press for a speedy
resolution of the war. It seeks a mandate to facilitate government - LTTE talks.
Given a situation where the power equation in official terms favours
the EPDP and the vast opportunities available to rig elections the Tamil national alliance
faces overwhelming odds despite the popular wave in its favour. The only way that
electoral gerrymandering can be overcome is for large numbers of Tamils to vote early and
overwhelmingly for the party of their choice. It may be prudent on the part of the LTTE to
reappraise its position and enable people living in areas under their control to exercise
their franchise. The tigers could perceive the election as a mini-referendum for the right
of self-determination instead of as an extension of Sri Lankan Parliamentary politics. It
may also help the Alliance to defeat the EPDP which from a tiger viewpoint may be the
Whatever the outcome of the poll and whatever the electoral
malpractices Devananda knows that in the final analysis only victory counts. The overall
political culture of the country has deteriorated to such great depths that people of
Devanandas ilk are confident as ever. As long as he wins a sizeable bloc of seats
and as long as parliamentary configurations are shaky, Douglas hopes to do business. The
man who claimed to be Thamby to Premadasa and Machang
to Ranil moved on to the Blue saree pota. He is now in the PA camp of
Chandrikas but openly says he would shift allegiance to the UNP if necessary. The
run up to 1994 polls saw Kumaratunga accuse the UNP of conspiring to assassinate her
through the EPDP. Now Ranil Wickremasinghe is charging the PA of the same thing. One can
only hope that history does not repeat itself as a tragical farce again.
On the highway of corruption
By Frederica Jansz
The Sunday Leader has found that the fundamental rights of
at least three international bidders has been violated as a result of President Chandrika
Bandaranaike Kumaratunga interfering with the award of a tender to construct an expressway
from Colombo to Katunayake.
A mega project, which has been estimated at a cost of Rs. 10 billion
has been handed over to a bidder who was disqualified during the initial tender evaluation
stage on the basis that the company failed to score a required 50% out of 100 marks for
technical and management aspects. Daewoo-Keangnam-Korea-Joint Venture despite having
failed to comply with requirements of the tender were later on the insistence of President
Chandrika Kumaratunga awarded the multi billion rupee tender.
This was after the company was given the opportunity to re-price their
tender (despite its original bid being more expensive than two other bidders) and readjust
their technical proposals, design, management aspects and tender prices. The middleman who
clinched the deal for Daewoo-Keangnam-Korea was none other than the presidents close
friend, Ronnie Peiris.
In fact, Mr. Noh, who headed Keangnam in Colombo proudly sported a
photograph on the wall of his office situated at the Singer Mega building at Welikada,
Rajagiriya, of Ronnie Peiris being introduced to Noh by none other than the Head of State
of Sri Lanka.Subsequent investigations by The Sunday Leader revealed that the
Keangnam had remitted large sums of money in the name of Blue Class Internation Inc which
is a company based in Bahamas owned by Ronnie Peiris Be that as it may, today, we will
detail in our investigation how Kumaratunga once more has interfered in a key bid for a
national project that would thus benefit her trusted friend and has forced a tender worth
billions of rupees to be awarded to a company that was disqualified at the evaluation
In order to make sure that she would face no opposition from the
Cabinet Appointed Tender Board (CATB) Kumaratunga replaced Daya Liyanage, Deputy Secretary
to the Treasury as Chairman of the original CATB and appointed her trusted confidante,
Treasury Secretary, Dr. P. B. Jayasundera instead. Meanwhile, the Road Development
Authority has been granted a Performance Bond of Rs. 282,569,524.15/- (two hundred and
eighty two million five hundred and sixty nine thousand five hundred and twenty four and
cents fifteen) by the Peoples Bank on a request made by Daewoo -Keangnam Korea Joint
Venture who will serve as contractors to this project. The bank guarantee was secured in
compliance with the contractors obligations in accordance with the said contract to
furnish the RDA with an irrevocable bank guarantee.
The Peoples Bank Corporate Branch at Colombo 1, has further promised a
financial obligation of USD 9,252,760.07/- (United States Dollars nine million two hundred
and fifty two thousand seven hundred and sixty and cents seven) to Daewoo-Keangnam -
In 1998, the government decided to construct an expressway from Colombo
to Katunayake. The plan is to build a 110 kilometer per hour four lane divided expressway
of about 25 kilometers, with access control and provision of a toll bridge or user fee
levying facilities. Four interchanges, several overpasses and underpasses to carry
existing roads and footpaths across the Expressway Corridor and User Levying Fee
facilities are to be provided. This proposal was initially mooted by the former Minister
of Highways, A. H. M. Fowzie who in a cabinet memorandum on June 26, 1998 detailed the
necessity for the expressway due to the existing Colombo-Katunayake road being heavily
The minister at the time noted that the existing road is important as
it connects to Sri Lankas single international airport and to the Katunayake
Investment Promotion Zone as well as to the city of Colombo and the Colombo Port. By 1999,
out of fourteen international bidders and eight contracting contractors who had been pre
qualified to bid for the construction of the CKE, four bidders submitted bids on September
7, 1999, to implement the project on a Design, Build and Transfer (DB & T) scheme or
Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) scheme.
The implementing agency the RDA, concluded pre-qualification of bidders
as directed by the CATB and the eight most experienced international contractors were
selected by the Technical Evaluation Committee and concurred by the CATB.
Tender documents were issued to the eight successfully pre-qualified
bidders in April 1999. Thereafter the bidders were directed to carry out all
investigations, data collection, and overall design of the project with their own funds.
Four prospective bidders submitted their technical and financial
proposals to the CATB on the closing date of September 7, 1999. The proposals were opened
at 2 p.m. on September 7, 1999 by the CATB, chaired at the time by Daya Liyanage, Deputy
Secretary of the Treasury in the presence of members of the CATB, TEC, senior officials
from the RDA, Chairman of BOI and representatives of the bidders.
No bidder had offered a BOT proposal. All four proposals were on the
basis of Design, Build and Transfer.
The four short listed bidders were Dredging International Belgium in
partnership with China Guangxi Corporation Joint Venture, China Yunnan Machinery Import
and Export Corporation together with China Shanghai Urban Construction, Daewoo-Keangnam
Joint Venture South Korea and Bec Freres S.A/Scetauroute S.A/Van Oord ACZ BV/ICC Joint
Venture France. Dredging International/China Guangxi offered the lowest tender
price of Rs. 9, 273,503,904/-. China Yunnan Machinery offered a proposed price of Rs. 10,
A difference of 4 billion rupees
Daewoo-Keangnam offered Rs. 11, 597,998,506/- and Bec Freres offered a
price of Rs. 13, 289,164,972/-. The proposals were short listed in the financial order
with Daewoo-Keangnam having made the second highest offer next to Bec Freres which had
quoted the highest bid of over rupees 13 billion.
The lowest offer came from the joint venture corporation of Dredging
International Belgium and China Guangxi Corporation. In fact, The Sunday Leader found
that Dredging International from Belgium and China Guangxi Corporation whose design
consultants drew the proposed plans for the expressway are from highly reputed American
and Singaporean international and design consultancy groups operating in more than 80
The difference between the lowest bidder namely, Dredging
International/ China Guangxi and the highest bidder which was Bec Freres was as much as
rupees 4 billion. The difference between the joint venture company of Dredging
International and China Guangxi and the second highest bidder which was the joint venture
company of Daewoo-Keangnam - South Korea, was as much as over rupees 2 billion. The
bidders were required to submit a bid bond valid for 210 days from the date of the tender
opening, which was September 7, 1999 for an amount of USD one million.
Bec Freres, had submitted the required bid bond valid for only 182 days
which was an immediate violation of the tender requirements and cause for disqualification
from the tender process.
Daewoo-Keangnam submitted a finance scheme consisting of a loan package
from Hatton National Bank for USD 40 million, Asia Capital Ltd (Sri Lanka) for USD 35
million and EXIM Bank of Korea for USD 30 million.
How local banks like Hatton National Bank and Asia Capital could
provide a loan facility amounting to USD 75 million to a foreign contractor is puzzling
given that local contractors are not granted loan facilities for more than rupees five
million. After several evaluations carried out by TEC and the CATB it was decided that
Dredging International - Belgium and China Guangxi Corporation ranked second best on
technical and mechanical aspects while, more importantly, the joint venture company had
offered the lowest tender price which was Rs 4 billion less than the only other
technically qualifying bid by Bec Freres. Therefore, TEC and the CATB recommended that
this award be given to the joint venture corporation of Dredging International - Belgium
and China Guangxi Corporation - China. The other two tenderers, namely, the joint venture
corporation of Yunan Machinery Import and Export and Shanghai Urban Construction Group and
Daewoo -Keangnam - Korea were also disqualified by both TEC and CATB on the basis that
they had scored less than 50% which was the minimum requirement on the tender document to
qualify for the said project.
Thus, their bids were rejected by TEC and the CATB who decided they
could not be considered for further evaluation or negotiations. However, on February 1,
2000, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, in her capacity as Finance Minister,
submitted a cabinet memorandum stating inter alia, "I am of the view that, CATB
should be authorised to invite from all four tenderers who maintained their commitment
through valid bid bonds a fresh tender price on the basis that the entire project will be
funded by the government." In doing so, Kumaratunga stated, that the CATB should also
get further clarifications on technical aspects in order to re-ensure the technical
capacity of each tenderer.
"Tenderers should be given 30 days to submit the final tender
price together with additional information required for further verification of technical
aspects," she wrote in this instance. The reason the president gave for stating that
the entire project estimated to cost Rs. 10 billion would be now funded by the government
was on the basis that she had observed that this project had been evaluated on criteria
that the successful tenderers would have to raise funds for the project and complete on a
Kumaratunga noted that this might lead to a considerable delay in the
implementation of this project as "private developers may take time to raise the
required funds from lending agencies and institutions." Kumaratunga added that the
developer may also seek government guarantees for the loan which would serve as a
deterrent to the project. The president thereafter ordered the removal of Daya Liyanage as
Chairman of the CATB and appointed Dr. P. B. Jayasundera in his place. Meanwhile, D. P.
Mallawaratchie, Director, Research and Development at the Road Development Authority who
also served as Chairman of the Technical Evaluation Committee for this project, on March
23, 2000 wrote a strongly worded letter to Dr. P.B. Jayasundera stating his dismay at the
president's directive. Mr. Mallawaratchie observed that once the bids have been opened all
bidders know the other's tender prices, discounts, grants and to a certain extent the
financial and technical capacities.
100 marks given
Therefore, he wrote in his letter to Jayasundera, "calling for
re-adjusted bids after opening the original tenders, is a direct violation of tender
procedure." He further noted that another decision to change the total marks for
evaluation criteria from 100 to 75 is also a violation on the rights of those bidders who
had already qualified and been given 100 marks.
Under this situation, Mallawaratchie noted that "the bidders have
certain rights to seek legal redress against the Government of Sri Lanka."
The evaluation marks for the bids had been reduced to 75, after
Kumaratunga decided the government would fund the entire project and as such the required
25 marks for the financial package was no longer necessary.
Mallawaratchie added, "it is incorrect for the CATB or the cabinet
to resort to such changes in the provisions of the tender document, as this stage."
He asserted that as per the provisions of the tender document, such changes could have
been made through an agenda prior to 28 days before the closing date for submittal of the
Mallawaratchie pointed out that only six days earlier on March 17, 2000
TEC recommended to the CATB to consider that the joint venture company of Dredging
International of Belgium and China Guangxi Corporation had qualified and was ranked as the
highest tenderer who had passed with 100 marks all the requirements mentioned in the
Mallawaratchi together with the other members of TEC therefore
recommended that the CATB invite this joint venture for negotiations.
He noted that the other two tenderers, Daewoo-Keangnam and Yunnan
Machinery Import and Export in partnership with Shanghai Urban Construction group were
considered to be non-responsive according to the provisions of the tender document, as
they did not score more than 50% for technical and management aspects.
Calling fresh bids
A note for discussion was thus addressed to the Attorney General
seeking his advice on legal matters that may now arise as a result of the Presidents
decision to re call fresh bids from the four short listed tenderers.
Dr. P. B. Jayasundera however was determined to follow the dictates of
He argued that since Kumaratunga had decided and received cabinet
approval that the government would fund this entire project, all four tenderers should be
given an opportunity to re-submit their bids for the contract of the project.
Meanwhile, the country managers for both Dredging International -
Belgium and China Guangxi Corporation - P.R. China were furious.
Already informed that they ranked the highest among the four short
listed bids they were astounded to be told that the government had decided to re negotiate
Writing to the then Minister for Transport, A. H. M. Fowzie, on May 5,
2000, they reiterated their strong protest to the presidential directive as once the
original bids were opened on September 7, 1999, all the bidders they noted are aware of
the other's price, discounts, conditions and even the design/methodology etc.
Therefore, they pointed out that to direct all four tenderers to
improve on original proposals and to re-price after opening the original tender is a
direct violation of any local or international tender procedure and it also violated the
tender procedure laid down in the tender document.
They also noted with surprise that two non-responsive bidders, namely,
Daewoo-Keangnam JV And Yunnan Machinery Corporation/Shanghi Urban Construction Corporation
JV too had been directed to improve on their original proposals and re-price their
tenders, "which has resulted in open door policy to rejected tenderers to compete
once again with the responsive tenderers by re-adjusting their technical proposals,
design, management aspects and tender prices.
The joint venture company angrily noted that the government's decision
to fund the entire project was also self seeking as the financial package offered by all
four tenderers were originally considered and accepted as per the tender as a direct loan
to the government by the lending institutions introduced by the respective tenderers.
The bidder cannot bear the risk
Under this situation, the bidder does not bear any risk since the total
repayment of the loan borrowed by the government is to be borne by the government
including interest, fees, insurance etc.
The fact of the matter is that in perusing the rankings given by both
CATB and TEC it is very clear that the joint venture corporation of Dredging International
and China Guangxi were ranked as number 1 on all evaluations done, irrespective of whether
the project is funded by the government of Sri Lanka or not.
It is clearly stated in the tender documents that the highest ranked
bidder will be called for negotiations. On the technical evaluation bidders Daewoo
/Keangnam and Yunnan Machinery/Shanghai were regarded as non-responsive bidders and are
rejected on the technical evaluation because their design failed. It is not stated
anywhere in the tender about re-pricing or to call non-responsive bidders to re-price
their tenders. Surely, non-responsive bidders should be regarded as bidders who did not
comply with the employers requirements, conditions and design criteria?
The presidents argument as to why the government should fund this
project does not hold water. There is no bill item in the tender schedule to insert any
considerations for the financial package and the bidders are directed to price the job
cost, overheads and profits only to the respective bill items. The financial package
details are to be provided by the bidders on a separate volume of the tender documents.
If any bidder had included interest, fees etc for the financial package
offered in the tender price they could be rejected as the tender price should include only
the construction cost of the Colombo - Katunayake Expressway. Therefore, calling for
re-pricing even based on the government funding the entire project does not arise.
In fact, the president's arbitrary decision only allows for speculation
that she deliberately used this simplistic argument merely to get the tender reopened and
renegotiated thereby lending a favoured party a second chance.
Afraid to take the government on
Meanwhile, despite D. P. Mallawaratchie's dismay when the president
demanded that the bids be re-called and prices re-negotiated, the TEC Chairman on July 31,
2000, recommended together with the other members of TEC that the CATB negotiate the
contract for the implementation of the Colombo - Katunayake Expressway on a Design, Build
and Transfer basis with Daewoo - Keangnam Joint Venture.
In his final report, Mallawaratchi asserts that both TEC and the CATB
had "substantially improved the tender submissions of Daewoo-Keangnam and amended the
company's original price of Rs. 11, 597,998,506/- to be reduced to a fixed lump sum of Rs.
All this for a corporation that was initially disqualified from the
original tender opened in September 1999. Even when the bids were reconsidered and
renegotiated for the second time, Daewoo Corporation which holds 70% of the shares of the
joint venture was unable to provide the latest audited financial statements of the company
for 1999. This was a reflection of the company's dire financial position, which was a
direct result of the bankruptcy of Daewoo, its parent company in Korea.
This joint venture also did not conform to tender requirements and name
a suitable dredging company for the project. The services of a dredging company was sought
after the award was made and Boscallis - which local representative is the
Access Group were contracted.
The other bidders have considered legal action against the shocking
violation of correct tender procedure in this instance.
They have however refrained from doing so as they plan on continuing to
bid for other government tenders in this country and are afraid they will be victimised if
they take the government on.
Ousted for being
As far back as November 24, 1999 the
Ambassador for China in Colombo Zhang Yun wrote to President Chandrika Kumaratunga stating
he had the honour to recommend to her that China Guangxi Corporation together with
Dredging International Ltd formed a joint venture and submitted a tender for the captioned
He noted that the tender price from this joint venture was the lowest
in comparison to four other bids short-listed.
In addition, the joint venture company had offered a competitive
financial package to finance the project, of which they had secured 85 million US dollars
from China Exim Bank, and 20 million dollars from ABN AMRO Bank supported by the Belgium
Export Credit Agency.
The corporation has also provided an extra financial package from the
London market as a further option for the Sri Lanka government.
He notes that China Guangxi Corporation is a large state owned
enterprise established with the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic
Corporation of P.R . China and has earned rich experiences in the international
The company has constructed and implemented several high class
expressway projects in the coastal area of Guangxi and Guangdong Province, he says,
asserting that in the event the company wins the award it will give a new impetus to the
development of economic corporation between China and Sri Lanka.
Once again, a development project that could have been handled by a more capable and
proven corporation was ousted for simply bidding and following laid down tender procedure
Pre-poll battles intensify
by Frederica Jansz
Beginning last Sunday, supporters of election candidates became
significantly more violent. The intensity of the present campaign has once more been
marred by ugly and shocking incidents of election related violence.
A news item on the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation on Tuesday November
13, said that these incidents are being exaggerated by certain media organisations to
bring discredit to the government. The news item further said, "only over 400
incidents of polls violence had so far been reported to the police elections
Contrary to this news item, by Tuesday (November 13) last week, the
police elections secretariat had recorded 629 incidents of pre poll violence as supporters
of varying political parties used guns, cudgels and stones to attack supporters and
candidates of rival political parties.
In fact, last Tuesday the police elections secretariat had received 67
complaints of election violence within a period of only 24 hours from Monday, November 12.
On Sunday, November 11, too there was a record number of incidents. The
police election secretariat received 51 complaints of election violence over a 24 hour
period from Sunday to Monday November 12.
The situation was getting so bad that Inspector General of Police,
Lucky Kodituwakku last Monday (November 12) instructed all officers-in-charge of police
stations throughout the entire island to tighten security in their areas and prevent any
further occurrence of election violence.
Top cops said the I.G.P.s order came in the wake of increasing
incidence of election violence. The order however appears to not have any mitigatory
As the week progressed, violent incidents in connection with election
campaigns increased so much so that one more person was killed and many others
wounded as the hustings intensified.
Last Sunday, (November 11) at around 8.30 a.m. an armed gang opened
fire at the residence of Sajith Premadasa, UNP candidate for Hambantota and son of former
President R. Premadasa.
Sajiths wife Jalani, narrowly missed death as she had been
standing near the front gate of their home together with some party activists attempting
to proceed to an election meeting when the gang had arrived and opened fire.
Former first lady, Hema Premadasa had also been inside the house at the
time of shooting. Sajith had not been at home at the time.
Sajith Premadasa later told reporters that over 55 UNP offices in the
Hambantota district have so far been attacked or burned by gun-toting gangs roaming the
Later that night, a hand grenade was thrown at the ruling Peoples
Alliance office at Habaraduwa in the Galle district at around 10 p.m. The PAs
district organiser and some others had been inside the office at the time and are reported
to have suffered burn wounds.
Meanwhile, on the same day violence erupted in the central province.
Three supporters of the United National Party in the Kandy district were reported to have
sustained serious injuries also on Sunday when a gang of armed youth attacked the men with
clubs and other heavy weapons. UNP candidate for Kandy, Sriyani Daniel, said later the
injured men were her supporters and that the attackers were supporters of the ruling
Peoples Alliance. The Maravila police too had rushed last Sunday to quell a dispute
between PA and UNP supporters at Nattandiya.
A dispute had allegedly broken out between the two groups who had been
campaigning in the same area at the same time. The cops were compelled to use tear gas in
order to disperse the angry mobs and enforce a dusk to dawn police curfew in Nattandiya.
Separately, also on Sunday, November 11, at Talathu Oya in the central province a group of
UNP supporters were attacked while travelling in a convoy of vehicles to Kandy to attend
an election meeting. The UNP supporters claim they were attacked by thugs of the ruling
The Wennappuwa provincial council member for the ruling Peoples
Alliance complained to police last Sunday that he had been assaulted by a group of UNP
In Vavuniya, supporters of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and an
independent group clashed last Sunday, and left three people seriously injured. All three
persons were later warded at the Vavuniya hospital.
The OIC in charge of the Ragala police said that last Sunday at around
9.45 p.m. about 40 PA supporters had attacked the UNP office in Ragala. The office was
reduced to shambles and several vehicles including a van used by the UNP for campaign work
The next day, Monday November 12, a clash occurred between Arumugam
Thondaman, former minister and the leader of Ceylon Workers Congress and the PA
Candidate for Pussellawa, S. Rajaratnam. Thondaman resigned from the government two months
ago and has promised support to the United National Front.
Thondaman says the incident had occurred while he was travelling late
night at Pussellawa in the central province. Three of Thondamans supporters
travelling in one of the vehicles received gunshot injuries, police said. Thondaman has
alleged that the attackers had first stoned his convoy of vehicles before opening fire. S.
Rajaratnam, the PA candidate alleges that Thondamans supporters had thrown the first
stone and attacked his supporters who thereafter retaliated in kind.
Following this incident, S. A. Kandasamy, General Secretary for the
National Democratic Party appealed to all factions in the upcountry and islandwide to
maintain decorum and conduct their political campaigns peacefully. In the meantime, an
election rally of the UNP held on Monday evening at Matale came under attack and the stage
had been set on fire by some persons, suspected to be supporters of the ruling
Peoples Alliance. The police said three persons were wounded in the violence.
By this time, UNP supporters in the Hambantota district launched a
hunger strike against a number of death threats which they claimed had been received by
UNP candidates contesting in the district. Arasatnam Sasitharan, a UNP candidate for
Batticaloa, was admitted to hospital after he was assaulted by a ruling party candidate
and his armed bodyguards in the morning around 1.30 a.m. on Tuesday November 13.
According to Tamil journalists, Sasitharan alleged that Rajan
Mylvaganam, a Peoples Alliance candidate for Batticaloa had assaulted his wife as
well. He said that Mylvaganams bodyguards had threatened him at gunpoint. He said
that he called the police for help but they were too sleepy to be bothered and had told
him to lodge a complaint in the morning about the incident.
The police elections secretariat on Wednesday, November 14, said that
70 incidents of election related violence had been reported during a 24 hour period ending
at 6 a.m. Wednesday. On Wednesday evening between 7 and 7.30 p.m. another incident of
election related violence took place in Negombo.
At a UNP election rally patronised by Opposition Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe and organised by UNP candidate Joseph Michael Perera, at least 10 persons
were injured when a car believed to be carrying supporters of the ruling Peoples
Alliance had suddenly driven into a crowd of about 1,500 persons who were marching towards
the main Negombo town where the meeting was being held.
Shots had been fired from the car into the air creating a mass stampede
while 35-year-old Nuwan Somachandra was killed when the vehicle ran over him. Olitha
Premathiratne, UNP candidate for Katana, had rallied the crowd, and forming a procession
they had just begun to march towards the venue of the UNP led meeting when a car had
blocked their path.
Repeated requests for it to move failed and suddenly the vehicle revved
and drove straight into the crowd. The police had taken the vehicle into custody. The
driver later surrendered and was released on a surety bail of Rs. 10,000.
After the death of Somachandra however, the police will now treat the
charge as one of murder. On the same day, Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, PA candidate for
Katana alleged that five of his supporters had been assaulted and injured in a firearm
attack at around 1.30 a.m. in the Kochchikade area. Fernandopulle has charged that
supporters of the UNP candidate for Gampaha, Edward Gunasekera, had fired at his
The five wounded persons have all been admitted to the Colombo and
Negombo national hospitals with gun shot injuries. Once more, trouble erupted in Matara
with supporters of UNP candidate Sagala Ratnayake. Following the incident at Akuressa
where eight of Ratanayakes supporters were seriously wounded when attacked by
security personnel of Minister Mangala Samaraweera, last Wednesday, Ratnayakes
supporters this time clashed with the UNP district organiser for Banagala, Morawaka in the
Ratnayakes security personnel were allegedly forced to fire into
the air in order to control the fight. The row apparently erupted over a dispute whereby
Atapattu the UNPs area organiser believed he had been unfairly sidelined and denied
nomination over Sagala Ratnayake.
Also on Wednesday, November 14, two supporters of Sajith Premadasa, UNP
candidate for Hambantota were admitted with assault wounds to the Hambantota national
hospital. Two party offices of Sajith Premadasas in the Hambantota district were
also attacked. The UNP party office off Tangalle also came under attack on the same day
while a vehicle parked outside the office was left badly damaged.
In a trend that is becoming increasingly dangerous, the police say that
election violence is on the rise daily. Since the general election was announced in
October this year, the police had received 755 complaints of election related violence by
Thursday, November 15, 2001. Already four persons have been killed as a result. During a
twenty four-hour period that ended Thursday morning, 51 complaints had been lodged with
the police throughout the country. Of them the UNP has lodged 395 followed by the ruling
Peoples Alliance who had made 243 complaints. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna had
lodged 30 complaints while Sri Lanka Muslim Congress had made 25, police sources said.
The most violent incidents have been reported from Chilaw numbering 88
cases while Anuradhapura is a close second with as many as 82 cases being recorded by the
end of last week.
LTTE too enters the election fray
The LTTE too have allegedly entered the election fray and last week
abducted candidates contesting the December 5, poll in the east.
PA candidate for Ampara M.M. Anjan, together with one of his supporters
were kidnapped last Monday night at Kalmunai while travelling on his motorcycle.
A. M. Rakeep, contesting as an independent candidate for Digamadulla,
was also abducted allegedly by the rebels while travelling in his vehicle with two of his
are reported to have
also taken his vehicle.
MSD personnel ordered to appear in
courtThree members belonging to the Ministerial Security Division of Mangala Samaraweera
have been ordered to be present in court on November 28, in connection with the shooting
of eight youth at Akuressa this month.
As a result of the attack, all eight youth who are activists of the UNP
were warded with serious gunshot and other wounds at the Karapitiya and Matara hospital.
The incident cost 19-year old Kasun Madushantha the loss of one eye
while this young boy has undergone at least two operations to remove bullet particles from
Three other youth who had been with Kasun also suffered gunshot
injuries while another three had been brutally assaulted.
One youth suffered severe knee injuries after having been hit
repeatedly with the butt of a gun.
All eight youth were assaulted and shot at by personnel of the
Ministerial Security Division assigned to protect Mangala Samaraweera.
Bail application on
The Gampaha Magistrate, on Thursday, November 15, extended the
remand order on Deputy Minister Reggie Ranatunga till November 20. Ranatunga did not show
up at the magistrates court on the 15th, claiming ill health.
He remains under police custody at a
private Hospital in Colombo 7. Reggie Ranatunga is wanted in connection with the murder of
Lionel Rodrigo, a supporter of the UNP who was seriously assaulted at Minuwangoda
allegedly by Reggie Ranatunga and some of his supporters. Rodrigo died later of fatal
wounds to his head.
Ranatunga is now trying to maintain to
court that he was not present at the murder scene at Minuwangoda.
Ranjith de Silva, Gampaha High Court
Judge put off for November 20, the bail application submitted to the court last Thursday
on behalf of Reggie Ranatunga.