Abdullah Badawi Gets Married (Again)
That's correct, folks — the Prime Minister of Malaysia is remarrying. After the death of his wife Endon from cancer about two years ago, Abdullah Badawi is now marrying Jeanne Abdullah.
As usual, people have taken the opportunity to criticise Abdullah and take potshots at him. While I agree that his administration is horrid, I have to take exception to criticisms of Abdullah's personal life.
A number of people have put forth the suggestion that Abdullah is a hypocrite; rumours that he had remarried were flying around earlier this year, and Abdullah denied them.
However, from his statements on the issue, it seems that Abdullah intentionally avoided the question of whether he was in a relationship, or whether he planned to remarry. All he said was that he had not remarried, which is of course completely reasonable.
The announcement of the remarriage is still fresh; I have not bothered to read the gossip and slander that must be flying around the Malaysian blogosphere as I write these words.
However, I implore people to not let their judgment of Abdullah's policies be conflated with their judgment of his decision to marry again. Like everyone else, Abdullah is a real person.
As R. Nadeswaran said at the Bloggers United Malaysia dinner not too long ago, don't make things personal. Whatever you make of a man's political views, there is no need to criticise his personal life unless it affects you in some way.
Of course, as Abdullah's wife, Jeanne Abdullah will become very much of a public figure; she will certainly have a role to play in representing our country, being the lady of the house at the Prime Minister's residence. (Though from what I understand from news reports, she has already been managing Abdullah's household since 2005, when Endon passed away.)
But unless one has reason to think Jeanne Abdullah is a particularly bad choice to perform such a role — and at the moment I can see no such reason — there is no need to criticise Abdullah's decision to marry her.
I don't think much of Abdullah or his policies. I don't know much about his character; for all I know, he could be a particularly vicious or malicious person.
But whatever he may be, in the end, he is still a person, and he still has the right to, as the Americans say, act in the pursuit of happiness. I may not think as highly of Abdullah Badawi as I do of Raja Nazrin, but as I did with Raja Nazrin, I wish Abdullah all the best in his new marriage.