Malaysia went into mourning on Thursday for Endon Mahmood, the well-liked wife of the prime minister, who died after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.Endon, as she was affectionately known by most Malaysians, was a huge source of inspiration for Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and many political analysts say she encouraged the mild-mannered politician to pursue the leadership.
Parliament was adjourned until Monday as a mark of respect, and the government cancelled all Thursday's official functions, according to local media reports. Local TV stations broadcast prayers.
An official spokeswoman said Endon died at 7:15 a.m. (2315 GMT) on Thursday at the sprawling hilltop official residence of Prime Minister Abdullah, in the leafy new administrative capital of Putrajaya, an official spokeswoman said. She was 64.
The whole family was gathered at Endon's bedside when the end came, her son Kamaluddin Abdullah told reporters, but 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 dressed in the black headscarves of mourning.
"She died peacefully," said her son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin. Her mother was also beside her at the time.
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.
"I am blessed to have cancer at this time of my life because the greatest gift has been the prayers from everyone, including those from other religions," Endon said in an interview last year.
"There have been many times when people have come up to me and said that they are praying for me. I thank them all."
Officials said the public would be allowed to file past the body and pay their last respects from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the prime minister's turquoise-domed residence.
Then the body will be taken to a nearby mosque for prayers before being buried in a public cemetery in Putrajaya, reports Reuters. I.L.