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Asian nations repel the bug with no bite.

A web site in Hong Kong skipped to the year 3900 and a high-rise apartment complex on the outskirts of Seoul in South Korea had its hot-water supply cut.

Such glitches were rare, however, as Asia entered the year 2000 with few signs of the much-feared Y2K bug.

Many critics felt the region, particularly some of its developing members, was drastically unprepared to tackle the dreaded computer bug.

Some warned that vital utilities would freeze in places such as Indonesia and Vietnam, while others feared a financial meltdown in China and the Philippines. In South Korea, citizens rushed to withdraw cash from financial institutions in the event of possible Y2K problems (they withdrew 178 per cent more cash than in the same period last year).

In the end, Asia -- like the rest of the world -- escaped relatively unscathed as clocks ticked over to 2000.

"Nothing happened at all," said Leong Sing Chiong, head of corporate communications at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, as central banks, vital utilities and computer-dependent businesses from Sydney to Beijing managed the date change without problems.

Japan, a critical test area for Y2K given that the country is home to the world's biggest telephone and electronics companies, reported no major disruptions.

"We've had no reports of any problems with our internal systems, factories, telecom equipment and medical equipment," a spokesman for Fujitsu said.

The lack of bad news heartened analysts and investors, with Asian stocks rallying when markets opened in early January. Benchmark indexes in Singapore, Hong Kong and India set records, particularly the Singapore Straits Times Index, which climbed to an 11-month high.

Despite the positive outcome, the region did suffer some minor glitches.

Four Hong Kong government departments failed to show correct dates on their systems, but the problem was quickly fixed. Some phones from NTT Mobile Communications Network, Japan's largest cellular phone company, wiped all messages received due to date conflicts.

The danger, however, may not be over.

Microsoft's Bill Gates expects Y2K bug glitches to strike older computers at small businesses in coming weeks.

Technology consulting firm Gartner Group backs up this claim, estimating 55 per cent of all Y2K-related problems will happen during the rest of the year.

For now, though, the bug seems not to have bitten.
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Publication:Business Asia
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:90ASI
Date:Jan 28, 2000
Words:377
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