Bus driver heeds heavenly whisper, stands for Parliament
A businessman who is also a bus driver is the newest addition to the 2021 General Election candidates lineup for the Faatuatua I Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi [F.A.S.T.] party.
Masinalupe Makesi Masinalupe drives one of his own Pua'anifo Transport buses, and the 59-year-old from Safa'ato'a Lefaga says it was divine inspiration that sealed the deal for his decision to stand for office.
For Masinalupe, his decision to contest came only after his older sister, Lemalu Kuinimeri Tamati, was unable to contest the poll – but for a different party.
She was among six candidates who last month who had signed up to contest the seat under the banner of the Human Rights Protection Party [H.R.P.P.], including the seat’s incumbent Member of Parliament, Toleafoa Ken Poutoa.
Masinalupe, who was born and raised and is living in Lefaga, believes that he has more to offer than his competitors, after being involved in various aspects of the community from the education sector to sports and agriculture.
A hospital for the district of Lefaga has been listed as a priority in his campaign platform.
"I aim to make Lefaga a centralised area in terms of healthcare and education and various services. It's a very big district, from the sea and going inland," he said.
"A hospital at Lefaga is what I will be [pushing] for. It's been 40 years since we have been requesting for this. There is still nothing and yet it should be the first priority of any leader that is elected into the seat.
"For the safety of our district and neighbouring villages, we want a hospital at Lefaga. We are far from Leulumoega and the hospital at Safata."
Other developments Masinalupe feels strongly about include street lights and plantation roads.
Masinalupe says that, for years, Lefaga has requested better roads to make it easy for villagers to access their plantations but "nothing has been done".
"And the streetlights for Lefaga, it's mostly dark out there at night but you need to think of the safety of pedestrians,” he said.
Asked why he had chosen to run under the flag of F.A.S.T., which is being led by former Member of Parliament, Laaulialemalietoa Leauatea Schmidt, Masinalupe said: "it's time for a new tune."
"I'm a man who loves music. And like many of us, when you hear something too many times, you start to get tired of it," he said.
"There is hope that we need a new song, a new singer, a new tune; a change in Government to continue the good works in Samoa.
"What we all aim for is transparency and accountability, and this is what we aim to achieve here. And I have chosen this party as it reflects Christian-like traditions of fasting and prayer because we cannot do anything without God."
Masinalupe was educated at the Safa'ato'a Primary School before moving onto Lefaga Junior High School and Leulumoega College. He proceeded into Technical College, where he studied fitting and machinery.
In 1985, he started working at the Samoa Agriculture Store specialising in fixing small engines and maintenance.
Through his role at the store, he was able to travel beyond the region for training and eventually led to his becoming the store’s manager upon its privatisation.
Fast forward the years, Masinalupe established his own business starting with a taxi stand in town.
He is also the lay preacher at the Safa'ato'a Congregational Christian Church of Samoa [C.C.C.S.].
Masinalupe is heavily involved in the sport of rugby.
Aside from being the coach and President of the Lefaga and Faleaseela Rugby club, he was also the Apia West rugby team manager and a board member of the Samoa Rugby Union.
Masinalupe has also visited the United Kingdom in recent years, where he undertook coaching training which helped with the development of rugby youth in Lefaga, he said.
Currently, he is on the Safa'ato'a Lefaga Primary School Committee Board which recently successfully attracted Australian Government funding for the revamping of the school library.
Masinalupe is married to Fanuasa Leleimalefaga Tusani Masinalupe. They have five children.