Putrajaya - Malaysia`s prime minister wed yesterday for the second time, marrying a longtime family friend with whom he fell in love recently 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.
"The prime minister and his wife would like to thank the people for their good wishes for a happy marriage," the statement said, adding that the ceremony was solemnized by the imam of the main mosque in Putrajaya, Malaysia`s administrative capital.
It was formally witnessed by Abdullah`s son, Kamaluddin Abdullah, and son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin. Only close relatives attended. Later yesterday, Abdullah and Jeanne -- dressed in traditional Malay wear -- visited the grave of Endon Mahmood, the prime minister`s first wife of 40 years who died of breast cancer on Oct. 20, 2005. Abdullah, wearing a pale yellow loose trouser and shirt, and Jeanne in a white sarong and shirt, recited prayers at the grave.
Although stunning, the news of Abdullah`s remarriage did not come as a total shock when it was announced on Wednesday. Malaysian news Web sites and blogs carried rumors 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 this 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 when he stepped down after hand-picking Abdullah to replace him. But they have since become political rivals with Mahathir accusing Abdullah of corruption. Abdullah had two children with Endon -- Kamaluddin, who is a successful businessman, and daughter Nori who is married to Khairy, a Western-educated businessman and rising star in Malaysian politics. Khairy is also a key adviser to the prime minister.
Jeanne has two daughters, aged 29 and 27. 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. - AP
Source: www.kuwaittimes.net (11 Juni 2007)