MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The Association of Southeast Asian Nations' crisis-hit economies are all showing signs of hitting bottom, a senior official said Thursday.

Suthad Setboonsarng, ASEAN's deputy secretary-general, said an economic forecast by a monitoring group set up by the nine-member bloc shows ``we are hitting the bottom'' of the slump.

In an effort to avoid future financial crises, ASEAN agreed nearly two years ago to establish a joint surveillance system to spot problems in each others' economies before they become serious.

Suthad, who is in Manila for an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank, said the oversight group's report, still under preparation, will be submitted to ASEAN finance ministers later this year.

The surveillance system is one of the few measures ASEAN took to deal with the region's financial turmoil, but it was slow getting started.

For its part, the Asian Development Bank said in its latest economic outlook that Southeast Asia's economies are expected to start mending this year, although the pace and strength of recovery will depend on the impact of reforms and the mood of world financial markets.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. Cambodia is scheduled to join on Friday.

In Singapore, meanwhile, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong on Thursday reiterated the government's belief that the worst of Asia's economic crisis may be over.

``Fortunately, the worst may be behind us,'' Goh said in a May Day message to the National Trades Union Congress.

``But this bottom is not a trampoline, so these economies will recover slowly and painfully, rather than bounce back with vigor,'' Goh predicted.

China's economic slowdown, the uncertain pace of Japan's recovery and Indonesia's social and political problems are still ``areas of anxieties,'' he added.