Shy doctor gets his shot
Entering the political arena might have been a dream for many candidates who contested last Friday’s General Election. But for a shy doctor from Lepea and the new M.P for Faleata East, Salausa Dr. John Ah Ching, that was not the case for him.
He said he was never interested in becoming a politician.
In fact, the obstetrics and gynaecology specialist tried as best as he could to avoid politics for a long time.
“I always try to avoid politics and never wanted to be involved in it,” he told the Samoa Observer. “But what happened was that I arrived a day after the appointed day for the village (Lepea) to select their candidate. But they had postponed it to the following week in order for me to attend.”
When he attended the village meeting, he said: “I felt that there must have been a reason why the village had postponed it. I thought to myself that if they didn’t think about me, they would’ve already selected their candidate.”
That was a sign. And as reluctant as he was, Salausa said he thought about the village’s wish and accepted the challenge.
According to him, there were initially five representatives from Lepea who wanted to run.
But the village council only wanted one person, to give their candidate the best chance.
“It then came down to me and that is how I ended up in here. Otherwise I am someone who shies away from politics.”
Once his candidacy was confirmed, Salausa said he committed his plans to God.
“I left it to Him. I was prepared and I thought that if I don’t come through, it would be His will for me to continue my work as a doctor,” he said.
“If He thinks that I can serve the people on a higher level then use me as His instrument to serve people.”
Asked why he had felt this way about politics, Salausa believes it might have something to do with his profession.
“I am a medical doctor and it is my duty to serve everybody equally,” he explained.
“I have never been in politics before but I can see that there are times that decisions are biased because of policies and political motives.
“That is why I didn’t want to be involved in it because I wanted to treat everybody and if someone from the other side comes in (for treatment) I might have some sense of unfairness and not treat them well as opposed to my goal which is to treat everyone the same.”
Salausa added this is one of the reasons why he had been disinterested in politics because he did not know what to expect in such situations.
But now that he is in, Salausa is under no illusion that this is his time. He plans to advocate for better maternal and family health. He reminded Jesus Christ did not just preached, he also healed people.
“A preacher and a doctor have very important functions in life,” he said.
“If you are healthy but your spiritual life is not well, you are not complete. Likewise if you are unhealthy but spiritually unwell it is the same so you have to be healthy in body and soul to be complete.
“That function of being a doctor I feel that I want to continue on with that work and serve people by improving their way of life in every aspect.”
So far, Salausa said he is still trying to get used to how things work in the political world by “listening and observing”.
Born in the village of Lepea, he went to St. Mary’s Savalalo before he attended Marist Mulivai.
He continued his studies at St. Joseph’s College at Lotopa and later received a scholarship in Fiji, studying at the School of Medicine.
Prior to Friday’s election, Salausa had done antennal clinic outreached programmes in Lufilufi, Lalomanu, Poutasi, Saanapu, Faleolo and Leulumoega where he conducted ultrasound scan with a portable equipments for the women of the villages.
The programme was done free of charge under a partnership with the National Health Services.
Salausa was the president for the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health from 2007 – 2011.
Married with six children, Salausa acknowledged the support of his constituency and supporters for allowing him to represent them in parliament.
As for his age, the M.P said it would be his secret.