Pharmacist Lemalu eyes seat in Parliament
A businessman and Pharmacist, Lemalu Mathew Mualia, has confirmed his candidacy for the 2021 General Election.
Lemalu will contest the Lefaga and Faleaseela seat under the banner of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).
He will be up against incumbent M.P. Tole’afoa Ken Poutoa, also of the H.R.P.P.
In response to questions from the Sunday Samoan, Lemalu said there was “never ever any big magical plan” for him to run for Parliament.
But the global developments surrounding the deadly coronavirus changed that.
“Ever since the Corona-19 virus global pandemic now affecting the world, I knew in my heart that the Samoa and the world in which we live in will change forever,” he said.
“And for Samoa to move forward in the post-Covid-19 era, the future government is going to need as much help as it can get to cope with future global pandemics.
“And this is what motivated me to run next year. To offer both the future government and our people my expertise and knowledge in the health sector.”
Lemalu is the eldest of Le Mamea Ropati and Maiava Elisa Mualia’s seven children.
And being the son of a former politician and current Member of the Council of Deputies, Lemalu said his father has always motivated him.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me when I was growing up and he always had my back in everything,” he said.
“If I were half the man my father is, I would be the most grateful man on earth. My father came from the most humble of beginnings to be where he is right now and all I have is the most sincere respect and love for him.”
Lemalu said he has a lot offer in terms of developing the constituency, that’s been badly hit by the closure of tourism properties due to the coronavirus.
He believes Lefaga and Faleaseela needs a new leader.
“All I ask is that you ask yourself this one question: "Has my life and the lives of my family improved under the current Member of Parliament? The roads, your health, your incomes, to name only a few?” he said.
“If the answer is no, then I believe it's time for a new leader to lead the constituency. An energetic and healthy leader with new ideas to revive the constituency. A leader who has knowledge of what a post Covid-19 global pandemic era will become like and the challenges that we will all face.”
Lemalu is among the first candidates to confirm his candidacy in the lead up to the election next year.
He lives at Matautu-tai Lefaga and is a deacon of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa under the leadership of his spiritual mentors, Reverend Eseroma and Ruta.
Lemalu received a Bachelor's degree in Pharmacy from the University of Queensland in 1994.
Below is the full interview with Lemalu:
1: What has motivated you to run for Parliament?
Lemalu: Samoa, and the world is in the midst of a global health crisis, a global pandemic, a time when routines are upended and the future uncertain. A global novel virus, that keeps us contained in our homes - maybe for months - is already reorienting our relationship to government, to the outside world, even to each other.
Many countries have long equated their patriotism with their armed forces - but you can't shoot a virus, can you? Those on the frontlines against the Coronavirus are not conscripts, mercenaries or enlisted men; they are our doctors, our nurses, our pharmacists, teachers, caregivers, store clerks, utility workers, small business owners and employees. I have two daughters who are overseas working as frontline essential workers in the New Zealand Health Sector as pharmacists and biosecurity engineers. Some changes the health experts expect to see in the coming months or years might feel unfamiliar or unsettling:
1. Will New Zealand and Australia our nearest neighbours stay closed?
For how long? 2. Will touch become taboo and social distancing become the norm? 3. What will become of our tourism sector , the employers and their
employees? No one knows. But ,in my humble opinion, crisis moments also present an opportunity for Samoa: 1. More sophisticated and flexible use of technology, 2. Less polarisation, meaning: National solidarity and functionality because now, we have a " common enemy" scenario in which our people will
begin to look past their political differences when faced with a shared
external biological threat such as the Covid-19 Virus. 3. A revived appreciation for the outdoors, and other simple pleasures. No one knows exactly what will come. But, this is certain Our society - government , healthcare, the economy, our lifestyles and more - will change post era of the Covid-19 Global Pandemic.
You have to understand that for the past almost 20 years, I have been living in my village at Matautu-tai Lefaga. I serve my church and my community in various ways. There was never ever any big magical plan "for me to run for Parliament."
I still serve my people in the private sector as a private pharmacist and I also serve our government on the NHS Board and also the Ministry of Health Interim Board. One of the major issues I was involved in within the Ministry of Health included the separation of our previous NHS and the MOH. So I do know the inner workings of our government when it comes to the Ministry of Health. Currently I serve our government as the Chairman of the Pharmacy Council. There are a lot of many good and hard working health professionals and people within the Ministry of Health. They don't get enough credit.
But, ever since the Corona-19 Virus Global Pandemic now affecting the world , I knew in my heart that the Samoa and world in which we live in will change forever, permanently. And for Samoa to move forward in the "Post-Covid-19 Global Pandemic Era " , the future government is going to need as much help as it can get to cope with future global pandemics.
And this is what what motivated me to run next year. To offer both the future government and our people my expertise and knowledge in the health sector or ministry of health for the post Covid-19 Global Pandemic Era.
2: What political party are you running for? Why?
This global coved-19 virus pandemic is global evidence that a "functioning government " is crucial for a healthy society. We must not politicize this Covid-19 pandemic - to me as a father and as a private businessman for 30 years, this is not the time abandon our government and politicise the Covid-19 Virus Pandemic. It's not the government’s fault this Global Pandemic happened - it's a virus that originated in Wuhan China and spread to the world. I am running for H.R.P.P. to help the future government against future global pandemics. Thousands upon thousands of people have died across the world. How long wills this Covid-19 virus last? What if it goes on for another 18 months and a second wave hits the world? No one really knows. But I know that a functioning government is crucial for Samoa. And right now, H.R.P.P. is that government.
3: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges in Samoa today?
Economically: The important thing here is to realize that this economic predicament Samoa was triggered by a health crisis - not the Samoan Government. The economic part is not a structural problem. Right now, as a businessman, my number one thing is to focus on are my employees and my customers - my goals are to: " keep them well, keep them employed and keep them mentally healthy. In the global financial crisis, we were doing financial things to remedy a financial situation. In this crisis, we’re doing financial
things to mitigate a financial situation that was initiated by a biological situation - a Covid-19 Virus to be exact. Finance can cure finance. Finance cannot cure the biological problem. But both have to be addressed. In this Global Pandemic era, we as a people cannot point the finger at anybody. We cannot point the finger at the government. We would all be naive to do so. It’s more like a natural disaster. This affects both big and small businesses. So the response has to focus on those groups. Getting the people back to work as soon as possible to get an income coming into the family. Let’s leave it at that.
Socially: Tourism is currently one of the most affected sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill and has been the hardest hit of all economic sectors, and in many places the most vulnerable members of society will suffer the most. My village of Matautu, Lefaga is an example. 90% of my people is employed by the resort and since the resort closed down there are no jobs and the people are already feeling the bitter reality of the Covid-19 Virus Pandemic with overseas countries closing their borders. Lets leave it at that.
Spiritually: Psalms 91 and keep the faith. Stay at home and follow the Ministry of Health directives for social distancing until this is over. For now, encourage family prayer time and keep the faith.
4: At Lefaga and Faleaseela, why should people there vote for you?
All I ask is that you ask yourself this one question: "Has my life and the lives of my family improved under the current Member of Parliament? The roads, your health, your incomes, to name only a few? If the answer is NO, then I believe it's time for a new leader to lead the constituency. An energetic and healthy leader with new ideas to revive the constituency. A leader who has knowledge of what a post Covid-19 global pandemic era will become like and the challenges that we will all face. A leader who will offer solutions to these problems in the future because I tell you that the world will never be the same again. We need High energy leaders with the know -how and the skill-set right now to lead. To lead with solutions for the problems in the post -era Global Pandemic. What If A SECOND VIRUS pandemic hits the world and reaches Samoa? I Don't want to waste the tax payers money by just sitting around collecting a pay cheque. If that were the case, then I might as well not run for Parliament.
5: Being the son of a well respected politician and leader in Samoa and
the church, how much influence has your father had on you and your
decision to run for Parliament?
My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me when I was growing up and he always had my back in everything. If I were half the man my father is, I would be the most grateful man on earth. My father came from the most humble of beginnings to be where he is right now and all I have is the most sincere respect and love for him. But, I can never step into a great man's shoes. All I know is that my father has always taught me this lesson, " Blood is Thicker Than Water".
6: The HRPP has been in power for 37 years, what are your thoughts on
having one party rule over a country for so long?
You get the party you vote for.
7: Being a pharmacist and a health professional, what do you think of
the quality of health care service being provided for the people of Samoa today? What are the gaps and what can be improved?
The Ministry of Health is doing it's best under the circumstances.
There are gaps in any Health sector. Even the greatest country on earth, The USA, is suffering with millions of deaths during this Covid-19 Virus Global epidemic. Our doctors, nurses and all our healthcare providers and workers need our support and encouragement. When all is said and done, perhaps we will recognise their sacrifice as true patriotism, saluting our doctors and nurses, and saying, "THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!"
8: Looking at the bigger picture in terms of the election, what will it take for Samoa to finally have an opposition party, with enough numbers to be recognised in Parliament?
For me, my focus is on the health and well being of our children ever since the Covid-19 Virus global pandemic killed thousands upon thousands of people all over the world. If - there is a second wave of the Covid-19 Virus and Samoa does get hit with this deadly virus, what will it matter to me , personally? The lives of the people and the future for our children are what matters to me. These are extraordinary times we are all living in and we have to put our priorities into perspective.
9: Tell us any other thoughts you might have.
There is no playbook for this event. Not since the Spanish influenza that killed millions upon millions of people including thousands of our own people. I want our future to be prepared this time - and IF I can contribute to that as a politician by introducing policies that will help prepare them in their health, economic and social areas - I will be of service to my people. Whatever the outcome, it's important for the people to be well informed about the post-era Covid-19 Virus Pandemic and how to better prepare for it. It is our children and their children's future at stake now. It' too late for our generation, but we can help prepare and save our children's future. This is the message.