(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): I am very disappointed with the answer which the Minister for Energy, Telecommunications and Posts, Datuk Leo Moggie had given to my parliamentary question for "a detailed report on the problem of Millennium Bug or Y2K in Malaysia, both in the public and private sectors, and the measures and costs involved to resolve it".
The answer is most sloppy, unsatisfactory and typifies the indifference and complacency of top government leaders without any sense of urgency or understanding of the magnitude of Year 2000 crisis which can bring disaster to Malaysia with the turn of the century in 20 months' time.
It is no joke when articles on the Y2K crisis advise people not to board a plane or to make a phone call on the eve of the year 2000, with nightmares of air disasters or hefty sums for phone calls billed for the last 999 years.
In a recent survey in the United States, 94 per cent of the IT managers surveyed by the Information Technology Association of America agreed that the year 2000 computer problem is a crisis. While most feel "reasonably confident" they will succeed with the year 2000 projects, 44% reported that they have already experienced year 2000 problems in their operations, and 93% said their companies are likely to be hurt if their computer systems are not made year 2000-compliant. Some 22% expect to see problems by the first quarter of 1999, with 17% expecting trouble in the fourth quarter of 1999.
A similar bleak outlook was reported by 227 members of the Y2K Group, a Washington user group for year 2000 project managers at federal agencies, the armed forces and businesses. Asked to rate the seriousness of the year 2000 problem, 83% said they expect the Dow Jones Industrial Average to fall 20%; more than half said the crisis will cause at least a mild recession; one-third predicted there will be a strong recession; and 11% said they expect a depression.
But Leo Moggie had completely failed to communicate any sense of urgency or understanding of the magnitude of the crisis when he was asked about the Y2K problem in Parliament.
All that Leo Moggie could say in response to the request for a "detailed report" as to how both the public and private sectors are addressing the Y2K problem is to say that as far as the public sector is concerned, MAMPU or the Unit Pemodenan Tadbiran Awam Malaysia is responsible to deal with this problem and that it has identified 22 agencies which are regarded as critical where corrective measures had been started.
For the private sector, Leo Moggie said:
Leo Moggie's answer is shocking because he is still talking about identifying the gravity of the problem in Malaysia, and devising measures to deal with the problem, when there are only 20 months left to Year 2000.
It is also very shocking that Leo Moggie had failed to take the opportunity in his answer to my parliamentary question on the millennium bug to highlight the low level of Y2K awareness in Malaysia and the need for a full action plan to solve the problem at the national level.
Malaysia, for instance, still does not have a special standard to define Y2K compliance although the National Information Technology Council (NITC) has urged SIRIM to come up with such a standard.
From Leo Moggie's answer, it is clear that the government has failed to take the first step to deal with the Y2K problem by recognising the urgency and full gravity of the millennium bug problem. Leo Moggie and the government should bestir from their complacency in the Y2K problem and get the Cabinet to declare it a crisis which require crisis-handling on a national level.