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  • [Asian Banks Face Y2K] Singapore Leads Region in Resolving Y2K Problem
  • October 23, 1998 (SINGAPORE) -- A strong push by the government and a high awareness of information technology in the corporate sector are among the factors that have made Singapore a leader in the Asia-Pacific region in implementing a Year 2000-compliant infrastructure.
    The Monetary Authority of Singapore, the country's de facto central bank, and the Stock Exchange of Singapore have been pushing banks and companies to be fully Y2K compliant as early as mid-1999. The stock exchange, in particular, has informed all listed companies that they must advise shareholders if any aspects of their Y2K implementation will affect corporate operations and have an impact on the interests of shareholders.

    A recent survey by the Singapore Federation of the Computer Industry (SFCI) reported that 64.1 percent of companies in Singapore were aware of the need to become Y2K compliant, while 11.4 percent said they do not need to convert their existing systems.

    At a computer exhibition in September, the National Computer Board said that it will certify companies to be Y2K compliant. The board launched a program to award Y2K-In-Action logos to companies that are taking serious steps to become Y2K-compliant. The National Computer Board is in charge of computerizing the government sector.

    "The IT industry has been responsive in coming forward to help businesses tackle the Y2K problem," said Tang Guan Seng, senior parliamentary secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. "To date, 140 Y2K consultants and tool providers have registered in the NCB Y2K vendor registration system, and the number is growing."

    In a new 450-page report released by U.S. securities company Merrill Lynch, analyst Arthur Chai describes Singapore's Y2K compliance as above average due to "the high levels of IT expertise and a long-standing awareness of the issue."

    "Our checks reveal that government agencies and many listed companies covered by Merrill Lynch have remedial programs in place, some having started as early as 1996. Nonetheless, successful completion of these efforts may occur only just in time by mid-to-late 1999," Chai said.

    The strongest assessment on the financial systems' compliance was given by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

    "We are fully confident of the system as a whole retaining its integrity and resilience at the turn of the century," said deputy managing director of MAS Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

    According to a MAS survey, more than 90 percent of the banks, brokerages and dealers are slated to complete their corrections by the end of this year, or a full year before the Y2K problem sets in.

    Also, Shanmugaratnam said that the MAS would intensify supervisory efforts to ensure that the financial sector is able to deal with the problem.

    He said that the MAS is taking a four-step approach to handle the Y2K issue.

    First, the authority will continue to raise awareness and help in any correction efforts. Second, it will monitor compliance progress through inspections and reviews. Third, it will help control Y2K risks through supervision, testing and contingency planning. And, lastly it intends to cooperate with local government agencies and overseas financial regulators to address Y2K issues.

    The stock exchange said it has passed a critical test in August to ascertain if the Y2K bug would affect its operations. It said transactions were successfully keyed in as if the market were actually in session in a simulation that involved 33 member firms of the stock exchange, authorized trading centers, approved foreign brokers, participants of the bond quotation system and other subscribers to the exchange's broadcast services.

    Merrill Lynch's Chai said that the earnings impact on Singapore-based companies is expected to be insignificant.

    [Asian Bank Face Y2K] Stories:
    - Vietnam Aims to Protect 55,000 Networked PCs in Finance from Y2K

    - Australian Banks to Spend A$1B on Y2K Bug

    - Thai Banks Say They'll be Ready for Y2K

    - Japan's Finance Industry Draws Measures for Year 2000 Problem

    - Taiwan Financial Industry Makes Headway on Y2K Problem

    - Indonesian Financial Industry Addresses Millennium Bug

    - Korea Looks to U.S. Vendors to Solve Year 2000 Computer Problem

    (Joseph Rajendran, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Thu Oct 22 18:14:11 1998 PDT