kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,
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kheru2006

Bride side: Wives of Malaysian Prime Ministers, Part 2

Soaring above the trivializing, tiresome cliché of “Behind every great man is a great woman”, the wives of Malaysia’s six Prime Ministers stood/stand tall on their own, behind absolutely no one.

Tun Endon Mahmood Ambak 1940-2005



Spouse of: Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Malaysia’s 5th Prime Minister

Background:
Tun Endon and her identical twin sister, Noraini, were born in Klang in 1940 to a Japanese mother and Malay father (Datuk Mahmood Ambak). Along with 9 other siblings, the twins spent much of their childhood in Kampar, Perak, where their Department of Mines employee father was posted. Tun Endon first attended Kampar’s Anglo-Chinese School, before continuing her education at the venerable St Mary’s School in Kuala Lumpur. She began her career in the early 1960s, entering into civil service at the Federal Establishment Office, where she worked until the mid 1970s.

Marriage:
It was while on the job that Tun Endon crossed paths with a young Tun Abdullah, who had just joined the Malaysian Administrative and Diplomatic Corps after graduating from University of Malaya with a B.A. in Islamic Studies. Following a brief courtship, the two were wedded in 1965. Tun Endon continued her career in the civil service, as her husband rocketed through the political ranks, clinching the weighty roles of Director of Youth at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, followed by Secretary of the National Operations Council. After years of dedicated service, Tun Endon bid adieu to the Federal Establishment Office upon her husband’s election as Member of Parliament for Kepala Batas in 1978. In 2003, one year before Tun Abdullah took on the paramount role of Prime Minister, Tun Endon was shatteringly diagnosed with breast cancer – the same disease her twin sister was already battling and would shortly succumb to. In spite of years of aggressive treatment both in Malaysia and the US, Tun Endon was felled by the disease in 2005, passing away in the Prime Minister’s residence in Putrajaya, surrounded by family. Her funeral was nationally-televised, and a public holiday and state of mourning was observed four days later.

Children:
Tun Endon and Tun Abdullah have a son, business tycoon Datuk Kamaluddin Abdullah; and daughter, Nori Abdullah, Chairman of Penyayang and wife of the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin.

Legacy:
Tun Endon spearheaded a range of charity initiatives which benefitted children as far afield as North Korea and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Her greatest contribution is perhaps to traditional Malaysian arts and crafts – in particular, her beloved batik, which she championed as an invaluable cultural heirloom. Tun Endon’s Malaysian Batik Movement has contributed tremendously towards raising awareness and standards of the local batik industry.

Tun Jeanne Abdullah Age: 62

Spouse of: Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Background:
Tun Jeanne was born in Kuala Lumpur in 1953, the eldest of four siblings in a devout Roman Catholic family of Portuguese-Eurasian ancestry. Most of her childhood was spent in Petaling Jaya, and she received her primary and secondary education at the renowned Assunta School. While in her early 20s, she met Othman Mahmood – younger brother of Tun Endon – and a romance blossomed; they married when Tun Jeanne was 23, following her conversion to Islam. She also kicked off a veritable romance with the hospitality industry, in which she built a sterling career that saw her assist in managing such illustrious five star properties as the Kuala Lumpur Hilton and the Pan Pacific Hotel. Tun Jeanne’s marriage to Othman hit a rocky patch in the early 1990s however, and they divorced in 1992. In the early 2000s, while her former brother-in-law Tun Abdullah was Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Jeanne was appointed supervisor of his official residence. Upon his assumption of the premiership, Tun Jeanne ascended to the role of manager of the Prime Minister’s Putrajaya residence, Seri Perdana.

Marriage:
Aside from overseeing the smooth running of the Prime Minister’s household, Tun Jeanne helped nurse her cancer-stricken former sister-in-law, Tun Endon Mahmood, until her death in 2005. Two years after her passing, to the pleasant surprise of many, Tun Jeanne became the widowed Prime Minister’s second wife at a private ceremony held at her former place of employment, and future residence, Seri Perdana.

Children:
Tun Jeanne has two daughters, successful businesswomen Nadiah and Nadine, from her first marriage.

Legacy:
Establishing her credentials as an environmentalist, Tun Jeanne was instrumental in the creation of Lanskap Malaysia, an NGO which raises awareness on the importance of rainforests and their preservation. She also helped found the Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre, for which she is Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Additionally, Tun Jeanne is Patron of PUSPANITA and the Malaysian Paralympic Council; and Chancellor of The Open University Malaysia.

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor Age: 64

Spouse of: Datuk Seri Najib Razak, current Prime Minister

Background:
Datin Seri Rosmah was born in Kuala Pilah and raised in nearby Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, the daughter of Minangkabau parents whose forefathers hailed from Lima Puluh Kota District, West Sumatra province. (In 2014, during a visit to her ancestral homeland, she was bestowed the “Darjah Kebesaran Kerabat Yang DiPertuan Gadih Minang” by the Minangkabau royal family.) Datin Seri Rosmah received her secondary education at Seremban’s Tunku Kurshiah College; her tertiary education from University Malaya, from which she graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology; and postgraduate instruction from Louisiana State University, where she earned a Master’s degree in Sociology and Agriculture. She began her career in the late 1970s as an executive with Bank Pertanian; years later, she was appointed Business Development Manager by famed property developer, Island and Peninsula Bhd.

Marriage:
Datin Seri Rosmah made the acquaintance of Datuk Seri Najib while he was Menteri Besar of Pahang in 1986, shortly before his appointment as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, and UMNO Deputy Youth Chief. In 1987, the high-profile couple tied the knot. Following her husband’s entrance into the federal cabinet and rise through the political ranks, Datin Seri Rosmah withdrew from the corporate world and began involving herself in various non-profit causes and associations. In 2009, Datin Seri Rosmah became spouse of the 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia. In an interview with Radio Bernamaearlier this week, Datin Seri Rosmah confided that she had to forfeit many of her personal and career ambitions upon her marriage to her politician husband, but philosophically chalked it all up to destiny, and expressed contentment with her role as wife of Malaysia’s current premier.

Children:
Datin Seri Rosmah and Datuk Seri Najib have four offspring.

Legacy:
Datin Seri Rosmah is Patron of myriad organizations, including Children in Hope Foundation, The Malaysian Nature Society, The Malaysia AIDS Council, The National Heart Institute Foundation, The Foundation for the Development of Underprivileged Children, The Malaysian Medical Welfare Fund, Society of the Orthopedically Handicapped Malaysia, and The Thalassemia Association.

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