For discussion
on 26 April 1999

Legislative Council Panel on Economic Services


The purpose of this paper is to inform Members of the progress of Y2K compliance in Government, Government-funded and Government-regulated organisations under the purview of the Economic Services Bureau (ESB).

2. This paper covers the progress of the following Government, Government-funded and Government-regulated organisations:

  1. Civil Aviation Department (civil aviation management)

  2. Marine Department (port management)

  3. Container terminals (four commercial operators)

  4. Power companies and Towngas Company (energy supply)

  5. Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (electrical and gas safety)

  6. Hong Kong Observatory (meteorological service)

  7. Agriculture and Fisheries Department (supply of fresh food produce)

  8. Hongkong Post (postal service)

  9. Hong Kong Tourist Association (promotion of inbound tourism)

3.In view of Members' particular interest in the Y2K compliance of the airport, the information is provided to Members in a separate paper.


4. The Bureau has placed great emphasis on ensuring that those organisations responsible for providing these critical public services are sufficiently aware of the Y2K problem and have devoted adequate resources to tackling it.

5. All Government departments and non-government organisations under ESB responsibility are required to provide regular progress reports on their Y2K compliance programme.


6. Where Government departments are concerned, the primary responsibilities for ensuring Y2K compliance rest with relevant Heads of Departments (HODs): Secretary for Economic Services (SES) checks with HODs progress in this area regularly, and requests them to report on problems, where relevant. Where non-Government organisations (NGOs) are concerned, the responsibility of ensuring Y2K compliance rests with them, but the Bureau regularly receives updates from these organisations on progress made. In considering these reports, ESB may consult other government departments such as the Information Technology Services Department and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department for technical advice. On the basis of these reports from the NGO's, ESB in turn reports to the central Steering Committee on Year 2000 Compliance. In addition, the SES has earlier this year personally met with the Chief Executive Officers and other senior management of the NGOs to ensure that Y2K compliance is given the highest level attention in the organisations.


7. Based on progress to date, Government Departments and NGOs under ESB's purview are able to achieve full Y2K compliance for most of their mission critical systems by mid 1999 and for the remaining ones shortly afterwards. Contingency plans are being drawn up by the respective organisations and they are expected to be available before September 1999 if not earlier.


8. The following is a summary of the progress of Y2K compliance and the preparation of contingency plans by individual Government Departments and NGOs.

Civil Aviation Department (civil aviation management)

9. In the department, the work on Y2K compliance can be broadly divided into two areas, namely-

  1. Internal systems - these mainly cover Civil Aviation Department's (CAD's) air traffic control (ATC) systems for the provision of air traffic services (ATS).

  2. External systems - these mainly cover those safety and security related systems which support CAD's operation or systems of organizations which would require licenses, certificates, approvals or permissions etc. to be issued by CAD.

10. There are altogether 1041 mission-critical systems in CAD. A breakdown showing the position as at 15 March 1999 is set out below

Confirmed compliant/rectified Being rectified Total
Computer systems 39 0 39
Embedded systems264 1 65



11. Among the 103 systems which have either been confirmed to be Y2K compliant or rectified are all the ATC systems. CAD has conducted comprehensive testing for each ATC system to confirm that they will be able to function properly during the rollover to 1 January 2000 as well as other Y2K high-risk dates. The remaining non-compliant system which is being rectified is a PABX telephone system in the ATC Complex. Rectification work for this system will be completed by the end of June 1999.

12. While CAD will achieve Y2K compliance for its mission-critical systems by June 1999, it will put in place appropriate contingency plans and back up measures as a further safeguard to ensure a safe ATC operation during the rollover to 1 January 2000. These measures include the provision of backup communication facilities, contingency air routes, unidirectional flow of air traffic in busy areas, increase of separation between aircraft, etc. These are part and parcel of a region-wide contingency plan developed under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Asia/Pacific Regional Office. The current schedule is that all contingency planning and back up measures will be finalised by August 1999, and the necessary equipment tested by 1 September 1999. CAD will continue to participate actively in the ensuing planning and implementation work.

13. Although each organisation is responsible for the Y2K compliance of its own systems, CAD set up a Y2K Compliance Task Force in September 1998 to monitor the progress of work in respect of the safety and security related systems of Hong Kong's key aviation related organizations. The Task Force seeks to get all concerned organisations to work together to achieve a smooth and effective transition to the Y2K high risk dates. To this end, the Task Force is chaired by CAD with the participation of other relevant Government departments, the Airport Authority, Hong Kong-based airlines, helicopter operators and aircraft maintenance service agents. The Task Force keeps track of the Y2K compliance status and the progress of remedial actions taken on various systems under the purview of CAD as well as the various organizations. It also assists members of the Task Force to conduct impact analysis and formulate the necessary contingency plans.

14. As for the three major Hong Kong-based airlines, i.e. Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines and Air Hong Kong, they are active members of the CAD Y2K Compliance Task Force. Their Y2K compliance work progress has been closely monitored by CAD.

15. Based on the information supplied, it is noted that all their equipment and systems, except for the aircraft, had been tested and proved to be Y2K compliant in March 1999. Suitable contingency plans are being worked out by the airlines concerned. These mainly involve the use of PCs or in the worse case processing by manual means. It is anticipated that the contingency plans will be finalised and put in place by September 1999.

16. In regard to the progress of Y2K compliance for the aircraft, the three airlines have formed a working group to address the issue. They are working closely with the aircraft manufacturers. Information received from aircraft manufacturers to date indicates that all the aircraft will achieve Y2K compliance by June 1999.

17. The progress of the compliance work of the Airport Authority is reported in a separate paper. As regards the other relevant organizations covered by the Task Force, information provided by them indicates that they have already completed the rectification work of most of their safety and security related systems and will be conducting verification work between now and June 1999.

18. Satisfactory progress has been made on the Y2K compliance work for systems and equipment used by CAD, and safety and security related systems of the aviation industry and local airlines. CAD will continue to work closely with the aviation related organizations with a view to ensuring that any problems which will potentially affect civil aviation would be identified and rectified and contingency plans would be established by September 1999 to mitigate any known or potential problems.

Marine Department (port management)

19. The Marine Department (MD) uses a number of computerised systems in areas such as the vessel traffic control system.

20. As on 1 April 1999, Y2K rectification work for the mission-critical computer systems and the mission-critical line communication systems in the Marine Department (MD) had been completed. For the mission-critical embedded systems, two remain to be rectified. They are the digital controller for China Ferry Terminal's (CFT) air conditioning system which is expected to be completed by the end of April 1999 and CFT's sailing schedule display system which will be replaced by end of September 1999. Should the CFT's sailing schedule display system not be replaced on schedule, a well-tested work around procedure has been established.

21. Contingency plans for the other mission-critical systems will be completed by June 1999.

22. An overall port operation contingency plan will be completed by June 1999 to deal with any unforeseen circumstances caused by Y2K-induced system failures which may affect the normal operation and safety of the port. This includes intensified traffic controls and monitoring for six hours before and after the rollover to Y2K critical dates, and tugs on standby at critical entry channels to assist ships affected by the Y2K problem to anchorage space reserved for such vessels.

23. In addition, in 1998 MD initiated a series of measures to ensure that shipowners on the Hong Kong Register, shipping agents and local vessel operators are aware of the Y2K issue as it affects shipping and are taking action in respect of their mission critical systems. To promote Y2K awareness MD has set up a Y2K hotline and placed advice and information on their Internet website. MD's website provides information as to where vessel operators can find information on the Y2K compliance status of common marine equipment.

24. For Hong Kong registered shipowners and agents of foreign ships trading to Hong Kong, MD has promulgated the recommendations set out by the International Maritime Organization on Y2K compliance through Marine Department Notices and Merchant Shipping Notices.

25. MD has held Y2K seminars and meetings with local shipping trade associations and major local shipping agencies, tug and ferry operators. A self-assessment checklist is now distributed to mariners to assist them in assessing the Y2K readiness of their equipment and systems.

[Note - the compliance position of the Star Ferry and local ferry operators will be reported to the Transport Panel by TB.]

26. MD has advised all local vessel operators to ensure that practical back-up arrangements involving the use of manual control systems are well drilled in advance of the critical dates.

Container terminals

27. Hongkong International Terminals Ltd (HIT) and COSCO-HIT have completed the rectification work for their mission critical systems. Modern Terminals Ltd (MTL) has completed 80% of the rectification work and expects to complete all rectification work by the middle of 1999. Sea-Land Orient Terminals Ltd has completed 50% of its rectification work and will complete 97% by mid 1999 and meet full compliance shortly thereafter.

28. Each of the container terminal operators is formulating individual contingency plans. HIT, COSCO-HIT and MTL have already completed contingency plans for their mission critical terminal operations systems and will conclude the remaining contingency arrangements shortly.

29. ESB has formed a port industry wide Task Group comprising representatives from the four terminal operators, the Tuen Mun River Trade Terminal Ltd, major mid-stream operators, shipping line representatives and concerned government departments. This team is drawing up an overall contingency plan by mid 1999 to be used if major disruption to a number of container terminals occur simultaneously.

Power companies (electricity supply)

30. Both CLP Power (CLP) and Hong Kong Electric (HEC) have formulated comprehensive Y2K programmes to ensure the reliability of electricity supply. Both CLP and HEC aim to achieve full compliance by June 1999. Up to mid March 1999, CLP has achieved 97% compliance and HEC 88%. The power companies have been preparing contingency plans to minimise the impact of any unforeseen Y2K - induced problems on the electricity generation and delivery systems. Both CLP and HEC expect to complete their respective contingency plans by August 1999.

31. A subsidiary of CLP, the Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Company (HKNIC), is a partner in the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station. HKNIC has completed the investigatory work on the Y2K issue. The main finding is that there is no known nuclear safety risk due to the Y2K issue, and that the risk to the station availability is very low. The GNPS aims to achieve full compliance by June 1999, and is presently undertaking remedial measures to various systems. The objective of GNPS' contingency plan aims at preventing, mitigating and restoring electricity generation from an event caused by the Y2K issue. The key measures in the contingency plans involve development of specific event-based response plans and increase in the manning level for operation and emergency response. The GNPS expects to complete the contingency plan by June 1999.

Towngas Company (towngas supply)

32. The Hong Kong & China Gas Co. (HKCG) has formulated a comprehensive Y2K programme. The Company has achieved 97% compliance by February 1999 and aims at achieving full compliance by June 1999. The HKCG is also developing contingency plans to maintain the continuous supply of towngas. The HKCG expects to complete the contingency plans by June 1999.

Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (electrical and gas safety)

33. The mission critical computer systems in the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) related to electrical and gas safety are those which hold the registers for electrical workers and contractors and gas installation contractors. These systems are Y2K compliant.

Hong Kong Observatory (meteorological service)

34. Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) has set up a Steering Committee to oversee the implementation of the Y2K compliance programme. The department aims at achieving full compliance by June 1999. By early April, 16 out of 17 mission-critical systems are Y2K compliant. The remaining system will achieve compliance status by end April 1999. To maintain the provision of meteorological services to the public and the aviation community, HKO has finalised contingency plans for all operational systems to cater for unforeseen problems. Tests for the contingency plans are scheduled in July and August 1999. The contingency measures are :-

  1. Manual weather observation with conventional sensors.

  2. Weather assessment and prediction based on HKO observational data and other meteorological information obtained via other means such as satellite broadcast and Internet.

  3. Dissemination of weather forecast warnings by fax to GIS, radio and TV stations, CAD and airlines.

Agriculture and Fisheries Department (supply of fresh food produce)

35. The majority of the fresh food consumed in Hong Kong (vegetable, freshwater fish, miscellaneous fish products, poultry, pigs and cattle in particular) are imported from the Mainland by road, railway and river boats. Since the operation of such import channels and local wholesale marketing channels (through wholesale markets under the management of Agriculture and Fisheries Department (AFD) and the Vegetable Marking Organization) do not rely heavily on computerised processing, ESB does not envisage disruption to the supply of these fresh food produce as a result of Y2K non-compliance.

36. Landing of the catch of local fishermen and import of marine fish via fishing vessels and their onward wholesaling also do not rely heavily on computerised processing. Likewise, no substantial disruption to the supply of marine fish is envisaged. Substantial disruption to local agriculture industry is not expected either since its operation does not rely on computerised processing.

37. However, it is estimated that a significant amount of the fresh fruit (71%), eggs (59%) and vegetable (6%) mainly of exotic varieties imported from overseas countries are imported via container vessels. In addition, a relatively small amount of fruit (16%) and vegetable (3%) are imported by air. As such, the normal supply of such imported fresh food produce would hinge largely on the Y2K compliance of the systems at the airport and the container terminals. The potential effect of Y2K-induced system failures on the supply of fresh food produce is expected to be minimal.

38. AFD is now preparing a contingency plan which is expected to be available by end June 1999. It would cover emergency measures required to deal with the event that import of fresh food produce via ports and container terminals is disrupted by Y2K non-compliance. Emergency measures would basically include arrangement of alternative sources of imports (mainly from Mainland by road, railway and sea). The plan would be implemented by AFD with existing resources.

39. As an administrative measure, should the situation develop into an incipient food shortage, the Food Control Committee chaired by DAF with members from the Trade Department, the Urban Services Department, the Regional Service Department and the Department of Health, will be activated to implement appropriate control measures as necessary. DAF will also act as the Controller of the Food Unit, the executive arm of the Committee.

Hongkong Post (postal service)

40. The Hongkong Post (HKP) has established a committee (chaired by an Assistant Postmaster General and comprising managerial staff and IT professionals) to steer the Y2K compliance project and to promote Y2K awareness in the Department.

41. HKP has taken stock of all its systems and has worked out a programme for rectifying non-compliant systems that are considered mission-critical.

42. As at 15 April 1999, all the mission-critical computer systems and line communication systems of HKP are Y2K compliant. For mission-critical embedded systems, 99% of them are Y2K compliant. The remaining non-compliant systems will be rectified by June 1999.

43. All computer systems, irrespective of whether they are classified as mission critical systems, have been tested in accordance with the test plan, and using the methodology, promulgated by Information Technology Services Department. For embedded and line communication systems, HKP relies on the advice of EMSD and respective equipment suppliers.

44. A contingency plan is being prepared and is expected to be available by end June 1999. It will cover database backup strategy, communication channels in the event of Y2K-induced system breakdown, procedures for authorising the switch to alternative systems, including manual operation etc.

Hong Kong Tourist Association (promotion of inbound tourism)

45. Government and the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA) have been working closely with and tendering assistance to the tourist industry to address the Y2K issue. Seminars were organised for members of the industry to raise their awareness of the problem and to introduce them to the resources available to help them to tackle the issue. HKTA has set up a special Year 2000 Programme Office under its Information Technology Department to manage and co-ordinate all Y2K compliance projects within the Association. Government has also made available some $9 million for HKTA to implement the Year 2000 Programme. Currently, HKTA submits a monthly Y2K compliance progress report to Government. Up to mid April 1999, HKTA has completed 75.4% of the rectification work for the identified critical business components. The Association aims to achieve full compliance for these components by end June 1999. HKTA is also developing contingency plans for key critical business components by June 1999. It will also develop contingency plans for those components which cannot be certified Y2K compliant or rectified completely by end June 1999. These key contingency measures include, among others, setting up an internal working group within HKTA to work on an overall emergency plan and a stand-by roster system during critical Y2K dates as well as maintenance of alternative communication methods.

Economic Services Bureau
19 April 1999


1. In a paper submitted by the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau to the Legislative Council Information Technology and Broadcasting Panel (LC Paper No. CB(1) 1079/98-99), it was reported that CAD had 132 mission-critical systems as at 15 January 1999. Of these 132 systems, 6 of them are in fact located in Kai Tak Airport and are no longer in use. Another 22 are entrusted to the Airport Authority (AA) for system maintenance work and will be covered in AA's Y2K compliance programme. CAD and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department will closely monitor the progress of AA's Y2K compliance work for these systems. Thus, 104 mission-critical systems are covered by CAD's Y2K compliance programme.

2. Embedded systems include Air Traffic Control Systems, PABX system and various building services systems.