Asian Y2K preparation advances, report says

The year 2000 (Y2K) remediation efforts of eight Asian countries have progressed over the past six months while several key areas, including medical facilities and private companies, are the least prepared for the changing of the year, according to a report issued yesterday by the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO).

Since February, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have "advanced significantly" their progress towards changing their computer systems to become year 2000-compliant, according to the Japanese trade organisation.

The year 2000 computer problem mostly affects older software programs, which use a two-digit date field instead of a four-digit field. Such programs could misread the "00" in 2000 as 1900 or fail to understand the date at all possibly resulting in system glitches or failures.

Asia's financial companies and the region's key infrastructure including electric, gas and water utilities are the best prepared for the year 2000, JETRO said. Hospitals, medical facilities and unlisted companies are the least prepared, the report added,JETRO said that an increasingly "large number" of financial companies may suspend their operations over the New Year period. The region's airlines, meanwhile, may cancel or reschedule flights during the last day of this year, the group said. Amended year-end flight schedules are expected beginning next month, JETRO said.

The report, which follows a similar study issued in February, is based on government announcements and a survey of over 100 people in both the public and private sectors.

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