Laulu learns from past, optimistic about future
She fell just short in 2006 during the General Election. But 14 years on, Laulu Ianeta Chan Tung, is back in the political ring optimistic that the lessons she learnt from her last attempt will give a better chance of winning the Palauli East seat in next year's vote.
Laulu, a former banker at the time of the Bank of Western Samoa, said she learnt a lot about voters' behaviour when she contested the election then. With 544 votes, she lost to Toluono Feti, who secured 585 votes, and the constituency's seat then.
“I have learnt a lot from people and the tricks and deceiving candidates so they can get things out of them,” said Laulu. “In the 2006 election, I had so many people coming to me asking for money to pay for their children’s school fees, water and electricity bills and even church and fa’alavelave contributions.
“They go from candidate to candidate doing the same thing and promising them to vote for them but there wasn’t any truth in that.”
The mother of four from Ululoloa and Fa’ala Palauli said her past experience had given her valuable insights.
“I didn’t have money to give them then and I still don’t have money to give them this time around,” she said.
“When they came to me for money for school fees and bills I asked them how they were able to pay for their children’s fees and bills in the past. I made it clear to them that if they really want me to win, I don’t have to buy their vote but will give me their support if it’s their wish.”
Thinking of the past election, the mother said she knew then that people would give their support to any candidate regardless of whether they paid for school fees or not.
“I was surprised that my votes came out to be second in the 2006 election because I didn’t buy any of my votes,” she said.
“So I knew then and in preparation for the upcoming election that I will continue to make that stance when voters come to me to buy their vote and had hope they will trust me and vote me in.”
In the upcoming election, the former businesswoman will be competing with incumbent M.P. and Associate Minister of Ministry of Public Enterprises, Tuifa’asisina Risati Palemene.
Contesting under the Samoa National Development Party in 2006, Laulu has decided to change her allegiance for the 2021 General Election by running for the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).
She said she had intended to run for the H.R.P.P. in 2006 but was persuaded by S.N.D.P. members at the time to join them.
“It was sort of like going to school back then, you were just following others,” she said. “I didn’t understand politics and what was involved so I just followed those that asked me to join them but at heart, I was a H.R.P.P. supporter.”
Having operated a gift shop and tire repair shop in town in the past, Laulu said she looks to continue on the development from the Government that already existed for her constituency.
At the age of 64, Laulu is caring for her elderly mother and traveling back and forth to Savaii for her village commitments.