Samoa’s new Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, is looking forward to returning to Samoa to start work next month. Lemalu replaces former Attorney General, Aumua Ming Leung Wai, who did not reapply for the position.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer from New Zealand where he has been based, Lemalu said he is humbled by the trust of the government and the people of Samoa in him to perform the role.
“I feel it is an honour and privilege to be appointed to this position as it covers a wide area of legal and community based responsibilities,” Lemalu said.
“My family and I are humbled to have been chosen as we are sure there were other very worthy fellow applicants. I am aware that it will be a blessing and also a challenge, but we feel that with the Lord’s help we will be able to understand the tasks ahead.”
In taking up the position, the 43-year-old is following his father, Misa Telefoni’s footsteps.
Prior to holding the position of Deputy Prime Minister for several terms, Misa held the position of Attorney General, starting in 1986.
Born and raised in Samoa, Lemalu, who had worked as a Commercial Law Lecturer at the National University of Samoa from 2001–2014, is keen on his return.
“Returning home to Samoa to work is an exciting prospect for me personally,” he said.
“I also believe being born and raised in Samoa is an advantage as I believe that overseas legal practices should not be applied in Samoa without first considering whether their import is appropriate to our local cultural and specific needs.”
About his new position, Lemalu said he will be building on all the good work of Attorney General’s before him.
His priorities would be to ensure the whole team and staff that “with God’s help, our goal will be to fulfill the current mission statement of the A.G’s office; to serve the people of Samoa by upholding the Constitution and providing the highest quality legal services to government.”
Lemalu also aims to “establish a strong working relationship and a clear line of communication with those that the Constitution says we specifically serve as lawyers, that being the Head of State, the Prime Minister who is the Minister of the A.G.O, the Cabinet and Heads of Department as well as the wider community where appropriate.”
The new A.G. also expects high professional and personal standards of behaviour from his team. An example he referred to is for them to turn up to work, Court, negotiations and meetings pre-prepared and on time.
He hopes to build a supportive team environment between the leadership and all members to create a unified and enjoyable place of work where individuals can thrive and achieve their goals.
Following Lemalu’s work with N.U.S, he worked as a Crown Prosecutor with Meredith Connell/Crown Law for four years.
He later became a senior solicitor with the Public Defence Service within the New Zealand Ministry of Justice rounding up 11 years of litigation practice overseas. His responsibilities included team leadership of lawyers and management of legal offices.
Lemalu also remained connected with the community through Radio Samoa community law programmes and as a board member for a Community Law Centre and other organisations.
He served two terms as the President of the Pacific Lawyers Association.
Away from law, Lemalu and his wife, Aiolupotea Leticia, have been church youth leaders for many years.
The former student of Apia Primary and Leifiifi Intermediate School hails from the villages of Puipaa, Vaivase tai, Malaela, Safune Savai’i and Safaatoa Lefaga.
Lemalu is scheduled to begin work on 18 April 2016.