A senior Vietnamese official has expressed belief that as the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year, Malaysia will successfully lead the bloc into the ASEAN Community and join forces with other members in working out proper development directions afterwards.

Ambassador to Malaysia Nguyen Hong Thao made the remarks in his speech at a forum held in Kuala Lumpur on August 8 to mark the 47th founding anniversary of the group.

The forum, entitled “Growing Together: ASEAN at 47”, drew the participation of more than 100 diplomats, policy-makers and experts from 20 nations around the globe.

Speaking at the forum, Malaysian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hamzah Zainuddin said Malaysia , as the next bloc’s chair, has responsibility to ensure a successful establishment of the ASEAN Community by the end of 2015.

He told participants that the country will focus on formulating the bloc’s post-2015 vision and chart its collective cause in the future.

The senior diplomat said Malaysia has come up with nine core elements that it believes will be the basis to drive the regional grouping’s integration process.

Malaysia calls for narrowing the development gap between members, creating a peaceful and prosperous region that is free of conflict, weapons of mass destruction and drugs, he added.

Besides that, Malaysia would like to see a more economically integrated and competitive ASEAN whose external relations with dialogue partners will be further strengthened in the future.

Hamzah commented that the establishment of the ASEAN Community will be considered as successful once all three pillars of cooperation in politics-security, economics, and culture-society are underway in the fullest possible manner.

The community, as stated in the “Roadmap for an ASEAN Community 2009-2015” will witness 10 members establish uniformity of rules and procedures as well as people-to-people connectivity, he added.

Formed on August 8, 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, ASEAN membership has expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.-VNA