Y2K Troops Prepare for February Battle

Air-conditioners hummed, phones buzzed and airplanes stayed airborne. So what's next?

Bug fighters aren't ready to declare victory over the Year 2000 bug -- not until after the final D-Day in February.

"Ask any computer guy, and he'll tell you that the next big day is February 29," said Harry Law, director of corporate communications at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Law said the Exchange had performed all the necessary tests for the date and is confident that trading will continue as usual.

The problem with leap years is that they have been difficult to define. Most computers know that the additional day in February comes once every four years.

Most computer systems are also programmed to know that years divisible by 100 are not leap years.

But there is an exception to the rule that computers could miss: years divisible by 400 are leap years, such as the year 2000.

With all the confusion, it is not surprising that corporations aren't backing down despite walking away unscathed from January 1.

"It's the first leap year [to fall on ‘00] in four centuries. We won't let down our guard," said Lavina Chan, a representative of Cathay Pacific. "We'll be as stringent in our efforts." Chan said the airline will continue to maintain its Y2K program center until February 29 rolls over.

Still, some corporations are optimistic because of the measures already in place for the millennium rollover. "We have set up similar policies and procedures governing critical dates, be it September 9, January 3 or February 29," said Ronald Li, the head of the Bank of East Asia's Y2K team. "It's the same [when it comes to] contingency plans and backup procedures."

"We're looking at doing similar things as we did for the Y2K rollover," said Howard Eng, the acting airport management director at the Hong Kong International Airport. "It's the same contingency plan."

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority will also be on the lookout but does not anticipate any glitches. "We don't expect any problems, because the systems are already Y2K-compliant," a representative said.

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