Tackle Y2K woe, PM tells SMIs By Mergawati Zulfakar KUALA LUMPUR: Small- and medium-scale industries in the country have been told to act fast in preparations to face the Millennium Bug or Year 2000 problem (Y2K). Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said while the Government and big companies were tackling the problem, he feared SMIs were not doing anything. "If they don't, they are going to get into serious trouble once we cross into 2000," he told reporters after chairing the sixth National Information Technology Council (NITC) meeting yesterday. The Millennium Bug refers to the inability of computer programmes to recognise the turn of the century. Many computers and machines could malfunction, causing billions of dollars in damage to business. Dr Mahathir advised SMIs to hire companies specialising in resolving problems related to the Millennium Bug to help them. The NITC, at its meeting, considered the set-up of a Y2K Bureau to alleviate problems like failure of electricity supply or ATM systems and working with regulatory authorities to ensure organisations under their charge were dealing with the problem. The Prime Minister said that many people have misconceptions about the Y2K problem by assuming it was just a computer problem. "All computers in the world will face problems simply because the 00 digits (in the year 2000) is less than 99 (1999). Actually, 00 represents 2000 while 99 represents 1999," he said. Dr Mahathir said many people tend to write just the last two digits of a year like 98 or 99 instead of 1998 or 1999 when storing records in their computers. "So if you refer to the records that are kept in the computer before 1999 in the new millennium, you are going to get things wrong. All calculations will go wrong. "The computer, being "intelligent", probably won't recognise or cannot make it out and may go backwards instead of forward," he said. The Prime Minister also announced that Kuala Lumpur would host the World Bank Conference on Global Knowledge next year. He said the Government had agreed to host the biennial conference which was initiated by the World Bank in Toronto last year. Elaborating on the conference, chief executive officer Datuk Tengku Dr Mohamed Azzman Shariffadeen said it was a new conference series initiated by the World Bank because of the changing economic, social and political structure of the world driven by the knowledge paradigm. "They wanted a developing country to host the next event and that's why Malaysia was considered," he added. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also attended the meeting which was represented by 21 members including several IT-related industry captains.
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