Election candidate Fuatimau Maumea Leniu has been doing his homework on how he can contribute to the development of Samoa.
Contesting the General Elections as an Independent Human Rights Protection Party candidate for Vaimauga East, the Civil Engineer believes everyone has a role to play. The government, he says, should take the lead and members of the public should offer their support when and where they can.
Education, he says, is a priority.
“I believe in the importance of investing in education for our future generations,” he tells the Samoa Observer. “I will use the power to try to improve the education systems through provisions of better resources for schools and teachers and to also promote top education to all areas in Samoa.”
Just over a month away from voting day, Fuatimau believes he has a lot to offer in terms of transportation systems, town planning and more. And his family’s rich history of Parliamentarians has already given him an idea about where to start.
“Some village leaders approached me saying there are some roads that need to be extended such as access roads that lead to plantations,” he said.
“Building these roads properly in our villages will not only make our people happy but it will also boost our agriculture sector through easier access to their crops.”
Job creation is also high on his agenda. He supports the push by the government to attract foreign investors to invest in Samoa so that job opportunities are created.
But he wants this to be done cautiously.
“I don’t mean to just open our doors for foreigners to wander in freely,” he said.
“I’m thinking more of companies involved in renewable energy that will not only help Samoa’s environment through the decreased dependency on fossil fuels but to also create many jobs for our people."
“With plans such as this, one we fix unemployment and environmental issues, we also boost our economy through the revenue gained.”
Fuatimau holds the issue of domestic violence close to his heart.
“I really want to start funding more safe havens for victims of domestic violence and also prevention programmes that will target the young and teach them that any type of violence is wrong,” he said. “I believe lessons such as these will stick better in the minds of the young and as they grow up into adulthood they will seek peace rather than violence to settle all their daily problems.”
Fuatimau is aware about the land issues in Samoa.
“Many villages are asking for their lands back (from the government) and all they get is just the government coming up with alternatives,” he said. “I will start knocking down doors in the government and giving the people of Samoa more of a voice until the government finally gives them what they want.”
Climate change is a threat to Samoa, he said.
“Villages such as Lauli’i who are living in areas close to the shore should be relocated if they want because they are exposed to human induced sea level rise and tidal waves during cyclones.”
What about the cost of living? How does he plan to address this?
“I will seek to try making all necessary goods affordable for those who have trouble making ends meet,” he said.
He added that the key to address the cost of living is to give people the tools to be able to confront the issue.
Tourism, he said, will play a key role in the future of Samoa.
“I will advocate for the construction of more hotels and resorts not only to provide more jobs to counter the high cost of living but to give our tourism a little boost,” he said.
“But we have to be mindful of our beautiful environment. I strongly believe that the development of both the environment and the economy should be balanced."
“My other passion is keeping our country beautiful. With more conservational projects and the funding of more cleanup projects we will not only provide jobs as street cleaners but it will also keep our Samoa clean.”
Born and raised in Lauli’i, Fuatimau left for New Zealand to study at James Cook High School. He and his family then moved to the United States where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.
After working for four years as a junior civil engineer for the private sector at Carter and Associate Engineering, he was hired by the California state government Department of Transportation and worked as a transportation civil engineer for 26 years before retiring.
Fuatimau promises to use all his knowledge and experience as a civil engineer to help Samoa.
“Some of the roads need a lot of work,” he said “I will do a thorough study on all the roads in Samoa and come up with ways of maintaining them."
“There is also the issue with safety with some of the roads like the ones with no walk way and the people have to walk a thin line of grass sitting between the busy streets and a ditch."
“As a civil engineer I can also help with infrastructures in Samoa making better designs that will benefit us all in a cost effective way.”
Lastly, Fuatimau spoke about the importance of nurturing future leaders and developing the skills of locals.
“It is way too expensive for Samoa to be constantly hiring professionals to come from abroad to build buildings for us,” he said. “The majority of the time, we get people such as the Chinese to come and construct and they bring their trusted team of labor workers because that’s who they trust. We lose so much money.
“With more focus on programmes that push our children to be civil engineers, I.T experts and other fields other than being a doctor or a lawyer, we can start providing our own professionals to do the work and therefore save money for more important purposes.”
“Our children’s wellbeing and education should always come first and then the health and safety of our people closely after.”