Lest We Forget


Compiled by Faruq Bostaman

Brunei too beats the bug

Azlan Othman & Ishan Ibrahim

JANUARY 3, 2000 – Co-secretary Sapawi bin Bolhassan of the National Body to Counter Y2K yesterday said they would scale down the operation centre after Y2K problems failed to arise over the New Year period.

He said the government appears to have successfully tackled the much-feared computer crash after several Y2K tests were conducted at various key institutions.

For the past 48 hours, Brunei has survived glitches that were feared to have the magnitude of shutting down key services, he said.

All the critical sectors of the economy including telecommunications, water and electricity supply and oil and gas have come away from the critical period unscathed.

The only minor problems the public faced were congestion involving JTB’s Halo card and DST’s Easi card mobile phone users around midnight, January 1, 2000.

ABOVE & BELOW: Minister of Communications Pehin Dato Awang Haji Zakaria (above); and Royal Brunei Armed Forces staff at the Y2K centre during the critical hours. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN

However, these were not Y2K-related problems. Officials said that the congestion was caused by too many people making calls overseas at the same time in order to take advantage of the reduced call rates at the late hours and many callers were also making New Year calls to wish in the new millennium.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong flights that departed on the critical Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time safely took off from Brunei International Airport shortly after GMT.

Flights to Kuala Lumpur departed at around 8.10am and to Hong Kong at 8.15am.

Sapawi Bolhassan at a press conference shortly after the stroke of midnight on January 1 said that around midnight, the banking sector took a little time to check up on their contingency plans.

One or two banks took a bit of time for a routine check of their systems. However, Sapawi reassured that there were no problems encountered by the banks.

Touching on the Royal Brunei Airlines flight that landed just before midnight, Sapawi said the flight from Surabaya touched down safely without any incident.

Meanwhile, the National Y2K Operation Centre at the new Ministry of Communications building in Jalan Menteri Besar, that will operate 24 hours until January 3 or for an indefinite period if deemed necessary was in full swing. Officials from all the critical departments were seen in full gear to manage problems that may arise from the changeover to year 2000.

A Y2K officer from Berakas Power Management Company Jurgen Marksteiner, who also worked on shifts at the centre, when interviewed praised the National Body to Counter Y2K. “I think they have done quite a good job over the last six to eight months. The preparation was very good which also helped us a lot to grow together,” he said. “We were well-prepared because the essential services themselves were also well-prepared.”

Touching on the operation centre, he said, “It would actually benefit the country to learn on how to cope with the crisis. Hopefully they will maintain it for future problems.

“The Y2K roll-over for the Berakas power station was a non-event as expected and we did not foresee any problems at all. All the systems have been tested.

“The power station spent around BND1.2 million on Y2K. It has three power generation sites in Berakas, Jerudong and Gadong. It supplies power to many areas including VIP’s premises, RIPAS Hospital, defence and areas around town,” he added.

Country tames millennium bug

Jacky Lim

JANUARY 4 , 2000 – The Minister of Communications Pehin Dato Awang Haji Zakaria who is also the Chairman of the National Coordinating Body to Counter Y2K announced yesterday that Brunei has successfully checked the millennium bug.

“Brunei has successfully entered the new millennium without any Y2K glitches,” said the minister. He added the transition went smoothly, safely and the country has emerged unscathed.

The National Y2K operation centre has been working over the New Year period to ensure there would be no breakdowns, he said.

“By God’s will until today, we have not come across any Y2K-related problems. In view of the positive results, the centre will reduce operating hours starting at midnight of January 2,” he said.

“Starting from January 3 to February 27, the operation centre will continue its scrutiny during government office hours. Services that are sill carried out include “media-monitoring” and “helpdesk”.

He also said, on February 28, the centre will be on 24-hour alert to monitor the extra day for this leap year.

“Our success here indicates that Brunei is ready and confident in facing challenges.

“The upgrading of all the systems is a positive move that has made us more ready.”

The minister said business was usual in the banks and no problem was reported. Bankers themselves were also surprised the situation was better than expected.

The Y2K helpdesk received 54 telephone calls to date and 20 e-mails since the centre started work on December 20, 1999.