Malaysia in mourning after PM's wife dies

By Jalil Hamid (From Reuters of Thursday October 20, 2005)

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (Reuters) - Malaysia went into mourning on Thursday for Endon Mahmood, well-liked wife of the prime minister, who died after a long battle with breast cancer.
Endon, as she was warmly known, was a well of inspiration for Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, but family friends sought to dispel any notion that he might now begin to lose his appetite for power.
"I think that this will throw him more into the job now," said a close friend, who described Abdullah as calm in the first hours after her death, just after dawn at their home on Thursday.
"It's a huge loss to Pak Lah," said Abdullah Ahmad, a former newspaper editor and diplomat, using Abdullah's affectionate nickname. Abdullah Ahmad was among thousands of people at the prime minister's official residence to offer his condolences.
"She was everything to Pak Lah. She was a friend and a confidante." But Abdullah Ahmad also doubted that the premier, 65, would lose his drive for politics now that she was gone.
Parliament was adjourned until Monday as a mark of respect, and the government canceled all Thursday's official functions, local media said. All local TV stations broadcast prayers.
Leaders from neighbor Singapore, including the prime minister, were also making their way to Malaysia to pay their respects, Malaysian officials said, in a clear sign of warmer bilateral ties since prime minister Abdullah took power in 2003.
An official spokeswoman said Endon, 64, died at 7:15 a.m. (2315 GMT) at the premier's sprawling hilltop official residence in the leafy new administrative capital of Putrajaya.
The whole family was gathered at Endon's bedside when the end came. The prime minister, a deeply religious man, was serene and comforted his children as they wept, the close friend said.
The son, Kamaluddin Abdullah, told Reuters she had spoken no parting words. "She was in semi-conscious state already," said a tired-looking Kamaluddin, wearing a white linen shirt as he stood at the main door of the residence to receive the condolences of visitors, among them women in the black headscarves of mourning.
"She died peacefully," said her son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin. Endon's mother was also beside her at the time.
Thousands of people, including civil servants from offices nearby, queued in rain outside the turquoise-domed residence, waiting to enter and file past Endon's body, wrapped in white linen. Later on Thursday, her body is to be taken to a mosque for prayers before being buried in a public cemetery in Putrajaya.
The death came in the holy month of Ramadan, during which devout Muslims believe the departed receive special blessings.
The soft-spoken Endon was diagnosed with cancer soon after her twin sister Noraini discovered she had the disease in 2002.
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was among the first visitors to arrive. He went in and read verses from the holy Koran, officials said. Abdullah took power late in 2003, as the chosen successor of Mahathir.
Since 2002, Endon had made regular trips to the United States for treatment. She returned home on October 1 from weeks of treatment in Los Angeles, but immediately went into hospital to guard against secondary infections, on doctors' advice.

(Additional reporting by Mark Bendeich, Clarence Fernandez and Barani Krishnan)

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