FORMER JOURNALIST, TEACHER, POET CUM GOSPEL SINGER Loujaya Toni, running on the ticket of the Indigenous People’s Party, is the new member elect for Lae Open seat in a male dominated race.
Loujaya, a Masters in Communication Development Studies graduate from the PNG University of Technology, said she could use her knowledge and experiences to bring holistic development in her Lae electorate.
In an exclusive interview with me before the election, speaking at her residence at Busurum Compound, Toni told me: “I understand human beings and basics of not only to look after people within Lae electorate, I also understand how we can develop together our human resources and how to communicate development.”
“I’m confident with the level of qualifications that I have and that confidence that I am delivering to the voters.
“I’m pressing people to take ownership of my policies and seeing them as theirs,” she said.
Toni had challenged 30 male candidates, including the sitting member, veteran Public Service Minister Bart Philemon, to represent the people of Lae.
“I am working with all the candidates in the Lae Open seat, I see all of them as my brothers and except Bart Philemon, who is my grandfather,” Toni said.
“I’m banking on the fact that I see all candidates as brothers and Philemon as grandfather, I’m very confident that I’m in everybody’s three-leaf combination,” she added.
Her win is the manifestation of her creative drive to tap into second and third preference choices of this male dominated race.
Toni has been running under the banner of: “Make a difference: Vote for a woman.”
“Male candidates can’t handle women’s issues; men deal with big issues and women’s issues are not on men’s agenda.
“A woman is qualified in home economics and in human resource development.
“Naturally, women are interested in talking of human resource development and want our children to have good education, good health and good life.
“We, the women are practicing real home economics and human resource development in the home governments, and we women are expanding our areas of governance into the next level,” she said.
Toni said that her policies are to touch the people and change their lives.
“I will empower and upskill the customary Ahi landowners, squatter settlers, women, old people, orphans, youth, people living with HIV/AIDS and people living with disability,” she said.
“I have plans to organize pensions for old people, create sheltered workshops for people living with disability, improve alternative healthcare and homecare for people living with HIV/AIDS, employment and training programs for youth, programs for orphans, develop cottage industry for women, downstream processing of local products and establish a Council of Chief for the Ahi people.”
She said her push is for PNG to meet the 2015 United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.
“I will provide a report card of my electorate to the United Nations in 2015. That involves making myself accountable to the Lae voters and transparent to the international community.
“I have a 100 days in office plan and a five-year development plan for Lae Open electorate,” she said.
This is Loujaya’s second time to contest the Lae Open seat.
She came fifth of the 25 candidates in the 2007 national election and third in the 2008 Ahi Local Level Government presidential race.
Armstrong Saiyama is a journalism student at Divine Word University in Madang