ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 02

Malaysia's PM ties the knot with old family friend

KUALA LUMPUR, Saturday (AP) -Malaysia's prime minister wed today for the second time, marrying a longtime family friend with whom he fell in love after the death of his first wife nearly two years ago. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, 67, and Jeanne Abdullah, 53, were married in a simple Islamic ceremony at the prime minister's official residence, according to a statement issued by Abdullah's family through national news agency Bernama.

Abdullah and Jeanne were scheduled to visit the grave of Endon Mahmood, the prime minister's first wife of 40 years, later today. She died of breast cancer on Oct. 20, 2005. Although stunning, the news of his remarriage did not come as a total shock, since Malaysian news Web sites and blogs carried rumours early this year that Abdullah was contemplating wedlock.Many Malaysians believe it is appropriate for Abdullah to remarry so he has a companion in his old age and the country has a first lady.

In a chat with reporters earlier this week, Abdullah described Jeanne as a ''simple and friendly person,'' whom he has known for about 20 years. She is the ex-wife of Endon's younger brother and has been divorced for about 15 years. Jeanne used to run the prime minister's household before and during Endon's illness, and continued to look after Abdullah after Endon's death.

''My love for Endon remains as strong as ever, but I have fallen in love with this one,'' Abdullah said last week. ''Jeanne also loved Endon.'' On Friday, Abdullah's predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, wished the prime minister a blissful second marriage. ''I congratulate him and I pray that he has a happy life,'' Mahathir said. ''For those who have lost their wives, they should remarry and I wish to congratulate him. '' Mahathir led Malaysia for 22 years until 2003 and stepped down after hand-picking Abdullah to replace him. But they have become political rivals with Mahathir accusing Abdullah of corruption.

Abdullah had two children with Endon _ a successful businessman son and a daughter who is married to Khairy Jamalauddin, a Western-educated businessman and rising star in Malaysian politics. Khairy is also a key adviser to the prime minister. Jeanne has two daughters in their 20s. Abdullah has said that all pictures of Endon in the palatial prime minister's residence will remain. ''Nothing will change, because those are eternal memories,'' he said.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.