It is with great sadness that I inform you of the loss of our dear colleague Haiyan. She passed away on 18 February, after a heroic fight against cancer. I have been in touch with Haiyan’s family and have extended our deepest sympathies to them. At this difficult moment, our thoughts are with her family.
Haiyan was a wonderful colleague and a great asset to the UN. Her dedicated service to the Organization’s goals is a source of inspiration to us all.
Let me take this opportunity to thank all colleagues for your hard work and I am sure you will continue doing your utmost in delivering on our mandates. Under my overall supervision, the existing rotational OIC arrangement will continue until further notice. I count on your usual cooperation.
Dear Mr Wu and DESA colleagues,
I was deeply saddened by the passing away of Haiyan, a long-time friend and cooperator. Haiyan and I became known to each other from our years servicing under China’s State Science and Technology Commission back in the early 1990s. Since then we had kept in touch, and been often working closely with each other — especially after I joined the UN service for the second time about 10 years ago as Director, Information, Communications and Space Technology Division at ESCAP. Jointly, we organized a number of activities in Bangkok and Seoul, all seen as highly successful, rewarding and pleasant. I also had the huge pleasure of visiting her in DESA for several times throughout the last 20 years. Talking to her was a special treat, relaxing experience and unique enjoyment. In addition, we exchanged emails and conversed over phone. To me, she was a wonderful friend. She was very warm, caring, sincere, always ready to listen, to share, and to help. While working, you will find a true partner in her with sophistication in professionalism, comprehensiveness, skillfulness and enthusiasm. In all our joint work, she would never try to do less items and claim more in outcome. Rather, she would compete with you to do more and claim less. She was very devoted to the UN. She was humble, but ambitious as well. She can be flexible but never yield in principles. She loves DESA and the UN, perhaps more than herself. I could never forget our last conversation over phone in mid-2012 when she called me from DESA and sought some work-related clarifications. In the middle of it she briefly informed, quietly and in a very even and peaceful tone, that she had caught cancer already for sometime. She then continued her talking session with me, not allowing me to change the subject to her health. She would not accept my suggestion to stop work and to go all out seeking solutions to cancel treatment. She said she would continue to work to the level possible. She demonstrated all fine qualities of her native Chinese culture and successfully brought them to her UN service. As a fellow Chinese, I admire her and feel very proud of her.
In the Chinese language, Hai Yan means sea gull, or swallow, both birds very much favored for its braveness in adverse occasion weather or its pleasing songs while flying among willow trees in the sunny Spring days. Now, Hai Yan had flied away to the paradise in the outer space. May this brave bird continue to sing in the Heaven so that we can continue to hear her. May Buddha bless her!
Dr Zengpei Xuan,
A new UN retiree and former Director, Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division, ESCAP