Florence Yii, a distinguished journalist and international vice-president for the Asia and Pacific region of the Commonwealth Journalists Association, died on Nov. 10, 2009 at age 61 of stomach cancer.
Yii was widely known and applauded for her work for the CJA as founding chairman of the CJA branch in Sarawak, Malaysia, and bringing fostering training programs for Malaysian journalists in her region.
CJA Sarawak chairman Caroline Jackson said Yii was admitted on Nov. 9 when her condition took a turn for the worst after undergoing chemotherapy for her illness.
“She was in high spirits when I last spoke with her on Thursday and her death will be deeply felt by the local journalist fraternity and colleagues from Commonwealth member countries, especially as she had greatly helped to put Sarawak on the international map through her active involvement and networking on issues affecting the press,” Jackson told the press agency Bernama.
She was the senior manager of the Chinese daily International Times and served as CJA Sarawak advisor.
During her career, she had also led the Kuching Division Journalists Association besides being the first chairman of the Women’s Section of the World Federation of Fuzhou Association.
There was an outpouring of condolences from countries throughout the Comonwealth, including one from CJA vice-president Martin Mulligan who wrote a special tribute for his longtime friend. See Tribute.
Hassan Shahriar of Bangladesh, president of CJA International: I was shocked to learn that Florence Yii, Vice-President (Asia-Pacific) of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA), died in Kuching on Tuesday. I have known her since the CJA 1997 conference in Hong Kong. She founded the CJA Sarawak branch and made it vibrant. She cherished her great wish by successfully hosting the CJA conference in Kuching last year. CJA members were so happy that they elected her vice-president for Asia-Pacific. A CJA stalwart, she had always wanted to make fruitful contributions to the organization. Her death is a great loss to CJA whose members will remember for a long time her hospitality, co-operation and organizational capability. Personally, I will miss her. I could never think that she would die so soon. Over the years, Florence became my family friend. My sister and niece were in tears when they heard that she passed away. They are still holding the presents Florence had given them. I am so sad that I feel that some one very dear tome has gone forever. Let all of us pray to God for granting her eternal rest. On behalf of CJA, I express my heartfelt condolence to her family. May god give them the courage to bear the loss.
Chris Cobb of Canada, vice-president for the North American and Caribbean region: As one of the many CJA members who were lucky enough to personally experience Florences remarkable force of personality and her gracious hospitality, I am deeply saddened at her sudden death. In her quiet, understated way, she had so much drive and tireless determination, as Im sure her Sarawak friends know better than most. Her role in organizing our last conference was pivotal despite her reluctance to take any other than a background role during the public events. I will never forget the kindness and consideration she showed to me during my visits to Kuching. This is truly awful news. Please pass along my deepest condolences to her family from the Canadian branch of the “international family” of which she was a universally loved member. Our thoughts are with you.
Murray Burt of Canada, past-president of CJA international: Florence Yii was a pillar of strength to the Commonwealth Journalists Association. She more than anyone, shook us out of our parochial thinking in this decade. Her drive was invaluable, and her charm as an organizer, but especially as a hostess, was unmatched. She was kindness itself when she introduced Betsy and me to Sarawak, an experience we cherish, and I am sure others of us will have similar sentiments. I hope she is recognized as a national heroine because she, more than any, must be credited with putting Malaysia on journalism’s map. Let us all think hard in the next week or so how we can best memorialize her. I am sure my Canadian CJA colleagues share these sentiments as we extend condolences to her family, friends and colleagues in Malaysia.
Syed Belal Ahmed of London: I am so shock to hear this sad news. First our friend Doyin (Mahmoud of Nigeria) and now the news of Florence. Florence delivered such a successful CJA Conference. I also join others to send condolence to her family and friends.
Syed Nahas Pasha, CJA-UK: Indeed this is a very tragic news. Florence will always be in the heart of CJA members who attended the Kuching Conference last year. What a wonderful show she organised. It is very sad news for the CJA, we lost two senior members within last months. I can remember Doyin Mahmood from Nigeria also attended the conference in Kuching and Dhaka. Let us all pray for the both departed.
Farid Hossain, president of the CJA branch in Bangladesh: I’m so shocked and sad to learn about the sad news of Florence Yii’s death. She was truly devoted to the CJA and its ideals. In her death we all have lost a friend who was always willing to help with a smile. My heartfelt sympathy to her family.
Newton Sibanda of Zambia: My heartfelt condolences to Florence’s family. It is indeed another tragic loss coming shortly after the death of another CJA executive member (Doyin Mahmoud of Nigeria).
Derek Ingram of London: Florence had been such a strong supporter of the CJA for so many years, and indeed it was as a result of all her efforts that we were able to hold our hugely successful conference in Kuching last year. The conference gave renewed impetus to the work of the CJA and since then it has taken positive strides in several areas of the world.
Drito Alice, president of the CJA branch in Uganda: I feel speechless! We shall miss her and learn from her Kuching success story. On behalf of CJA-Uganda, we convey our sincere and deep-felt condolences to the bereaved family, relatives and friends. May her soul rest in eternal peace.