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Thursday October 20, 2005
From The Star Newsdesk
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PUTRAJAYA: The Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Endon Mahmood died at 7.55 am today at the Prime Minister's official residence here after fighting a long battle with cancer.
Endon, 64, breathed her last about 18 days after returning from treatment for breast cancer in Los Angeles, United States.
She is survived by two children.
Thousands of Malaysians payed their last respects at Seri Perdana, the prime minister's official residence, from 11am.
VIPs and foreign dignitaries started paying their last respects at 9.30 am.
Endon's remains was brought to the Putrajaya Mosque for funeral prayers during Asar, before being laid to rest at the Muslim burial grounds at Precinct 20, Putrajaya.
Abdullah and his son Kamaluddin,daughter Nori, daughter and son-in-laws, Azrene Abdullah and Khairy Jamaluddin respectively, the premier's four grandchildren who are Kamaluddin's children, were by Endon's side before she breathed her last.
Endon's mother Datin Mariam Abdullah was also present.
As a mark of respect, several Cabinet Ministers including Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Information Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir cancelled all their official functions.
Among others, the official launch of the national jersey for the SEA Games, scheduled to be officiated by the deputy premier, was called off.
News of Endon's sudden death at the break of dawn shocked the nation, with Malaysians from all walks of life mourning the loss of the premier's wife.
Reflecting the atmosphere of grief and sorrow, the weather in the Klang Valley also greeted the day with gloom.
Radio and television stations switched to low gear by broadcasting songs which depicted the sombre mood and verses from the holy Quran.
Muslim radio deejays also called on listeners to offer the Al-Fatihah verse to Endon.
Senior government officers, including secretaries general and directors general, based in Putrajaya rushed to Seri Perdana and paid their last respects.
Members of the public started converging on Seri Perdana ahead of visiting hours at 11 am.
Also present were Minister of Agriculture and AgroBased Industry Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Minister of Rural and Regional Development Datuk Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin, Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, Minister of Higher Education Datuk Dr Mohd Shafie Salleh and former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Musa Hitam.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were seen arriving at Seri Perdana at about 10.30 am.
Abdullah, who appeared composed at first, could not hold back his tears when several visitors expressed their heartfelt condolences by lending their shoulders to the bereaved premier.
He was later seen conversing with Najib and Syed Hamid.
According to one of his aides, Abdullah who was by his wife's side, appeared calm when Endon breathed her last.
Immediately, the premier began making preparations for her burial.
She had on several occasions organised and raised funds for the poor. As chairman of Bakti, she has led the organisation well by providing foodstuff for the needy and poor.
In all my conversations with her she has demonstrated her kindness and respectfulness.
Backbenchers Club Chairman Datuk Shahrir Samad
She was the pillar of support for the Prime Minister. It must have been a huge impact on him.
We, MPs, are very saddened by her death.
PAS secretary - general Kamaruddin Jaffar
We hope the Prime Minister and his family will take her passing as a fate from God.
On behalf of PAS, I extend my condelonces to them.
PAS youth chief Salahuddin Ayub
On behalf of the leadership and members of PAS Youth central committee, I would like to extend my condolences to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the passing of his wife.
We believe her passing is a great loss to the country and we pray that Abdullah and his family will be strong and patient in facing this test.
Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang
It has come as a shock because we believed she was recovering. In the short period as First Lady, she has managed to establish a fond place in the hearts of Malaysians because of her kindness, humility, consideration and courage fighting the killer disease.
She did not give up without a battle and for encouraging other women who are suffering from breast cancer.
Former first lady Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali
I received the sad news early in the morning through the short messaging system (SMS). I felt so sad when I heard the news as I have known Allahyarham for a long time, as friend and also colleague in Bakti.
I am really saddened by her death and I regret the fact that I could not visit her while she was in the hospital.
Endon's death - which comes less than two months after she and Abdullah marked their 40th wedding anniversary - is the biggest personal blow to the Malaysian leader since he took office in October 2003 following the retirement of his predecessor, longtime leader Mahathir Mohamad, the AP meanwhile reported.
Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said Abdullah has accepted his wife's death, even though the family was surprised when Endon's condition worsened suddenly early Thursday.
"He was very calm, he is very religious, he has come to terms with it,'' Najib said.
Thousands of people filed past Endon's body, which lay in state wrapped in white linen on a table while Muslim clerics recited verses from the Quran.
Abdullah, Malaysia's fifth prime minister since the country achieved independence from Britain in 1957, had been married to Endon since Sept. 4, 1965.
Abdullah has often called Endon his "No. 1 supporter.''
When his mother died of natural causes in February 2004, Abdullah telephoned Endon in the United States, where she was undergoing treatment.
She later told reporters that he said: "I've lost my mother and I don't want to lose you too.''
Endon was respected for her humble, unassuming personality.
She was popularly referred to as "Kak Endon,'' or "Elder Sister Endon.''
Abdullah and Endon often showed public displays of affection, including hugs and kisses on each other's cheeks.
Endon discovered she had cancer in 2002 after her twin sister, Noraini, was earlier diagnosed with the disease. Noraini died in 2003.
Endon had a breast removed and traveled to the United States regularly for treatment.
She returned to Malaysia from Los Angeles on Oct. 1 after five rounds of chemotherapy since July.
Agus Yusuff, a political scientist at the National University of Malaysia, expressed confidence that Abdullah would "not let his personal loss affect his responsibilities.''
"He has been mentally prepared for Endon's death for some time,'' Agus said.
"He will bounce back and carry out his work as prime minister with his usual zest.''
Endon met Abdullah while both were working at the Public Services Department in the 1960s. Since retiring in 1976, she has mainly been involved in charity work, and has spearheaded efforts to assist children in North Korea, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
Endon has insisted she was never passionate about politics, and that she had to "slowly accept it'' when Abdullah became much busier after he was elected a member of Parliament in 1978.
"I must be supportive and understanding of his duties,'' Endon told The Star in a 2003 interview.
"I always compliment him. He will always phone when he is away and we always tell each other we love each other.''
Endon had been deeply involved in awareness programs for breast cancer, the main cause of illness-related fatalities for Malaysian women.
She has said she refused to feel sorry for herself, and felt fortunate she could obtain the best medical treatment.
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