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24 government agencies deemed "critical"

An added dimension of urgency to the problem was the development effort of the Multimedia Super Corridor, centered on high-tech industries and the extensive use of computers at all levels.

How could a country hope to continue to draw investors to what it planned to make the "creative and technological hub of the region", when Malaysia couldn't even raise enough money to stave off the threat of an impending near-national crisis?

The committee's initial setup showed some promise. It was represented by various umbrella agencies to plan, coordinate and then report to the government on the necessary measures that needed to be taken.

A series of guidelines were drawn up to effectively tackle the problem, particularly in critical areas such as energy, telecommunications, water supply, transport, banks and financial institutions, military, hospitals and the stock exchange.

Various consultants came on board later to head the remedial effort.

But the committee soon came to realize that the Malaysian private and public sectors were still nonchalant over the upcoming date rollover and lacked urgency in tackling the issue, despite the committee's best efforts to publicize the problem.

This was underlined by the fact that by late 1998, the official national registry of Y2K-compliant companies, set up last May on the Internet, had yet to register a single company.

Hampered by the Asian contagion, the government sought aid from the World Bank, which finally came through with the money at the end of March this year.

With a RM380 million (US$100 million) loan from the World Bank, and Malaysia's fragile economy gradually getting back on track, another RM470 million was raised from its own coffers, bringing the total budget to the more realistic RM850 million (US$223.7 million) level.

The money will be used for remedial efforts in 250 government agencies, of which 24 have been deemed "critical".

A team of four local-based consultants, appointed to conduct a three-phased verification exercise in April, will be submitting their first verification report by end this month. The second phase is expected in August while the third will be due in October.

Moggie has stated he is confident that public sectors like power supply, financial institutions and airport control towers will be ready come 2000.

However, he did express reservations for the medical sector which he noted was among the least prepared, observing that some "urgent" work would be necessary here.

"But no one country can so well prepared, even the most developed. No one knows what will happen come January 1, 2000. No matter how well we prepare, there may be things that will not happen the way we hope they will," he offered by way of an excuse.

The government is known to be developing a national contingency plan for the unexpected glitches that may occur during the rollover.


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