New Member of Parliament elect Richard Hipa has confirmed his intention to put forth his name for the Premiership in the first sitting of the Assembly and says the election results indicate that people want change.
In an interview with BCN News at his residence at Fualahi today, Hipa was visibly emotional expressing his gratitude to the people of Niue after he gained the highest number of votes with 440 in the General Election.
“ From the bottom of my heart, I humbly thank you all for the support and also the support in my name being submitted into the election and the faith and trust of the people wanting to see a change in the government and largely also the emphasis on bringing integrity and honesty and respect to the House of Parliament so I was heartened and encouraged and I knew I share that with the people because for me the principles of my working life have been honesty, integrity and that has guided me all throughout my working life in serving the people of Niue.”
Hipa who served as Secretary of Government in 2008 during Sir Toke Talagi’s leadership till 2017 says he was shocked that he topped the polls as a newcomer in Saturday’s General election.
“As for the results of the election, totally overwhelmed, shocked. We were outside, the family we were watching the results coming in. It was there but no one expected me to top the polls, so it took us quite a while, nobody yelled or shouted just thanked God and happy about the results. It was overwhelming and the first thing we did that afternoon anyway before the results started coming in, we said our prayers outside just the family and when the results were totaled and the end results came out, people started coming in but we gathered the family again and all those present that evening and we said another thanksgiving prayer.”
Hipa spent 8 days visiting villages around the island talking to families about issues concerning them and what changes they wish to see brought about.
He believes the people value his work record and experiences and that his consultative method of the campaign played an important factor in gaining the greatest number of votes.
If elected as Premier, Hipa says he will serve diligently, with honesty and integrity which are values he says have been the backbone of his career life.
He also acknowledged outgoing Premier Sir Toke Talagi who lost his seat ending his 12-year reign for his services to Niue and wished him well for good health.
“I’m very humbled to be in a position topping the polls, that is to me a mandate given by the people in their faith and their trust. At this point in time, I believe people are lobbying, politicking, going around lobbying for premiership position. My view on that is the platform for me is putting people and families first, let us not get away from that objective to play the power-hunger game. At this point in time for me, it is not what I need. I need to focus on a team that has concerns, a team that has a vision for the future, a team that I believe that will be formed on a basis of honesty, integrity to lead the country.”
I may not have been in Parliament before but my experience and what I know being in the cabinet for 9 the years, that is politics. I know the mechanisms in government, I have a very good understanding of foreign matters, foreign policies, I’ve chaired many regional important meetings. I’ve made part of the team that made recommendations for the forum leaders to SPC and have been recognized, acknowledged as a senior ambassador and a contributor to not only national but regional and international developments.”
Asked on whether he will align himself with the caretaker government or form a new government, Hipa says if elected Premier he plans to form a new government.
“I went into the election as an independent candidate, my hope is that a new government is established. A government with people of integrity, knowledge, and dedicated to taking this country forward in the best possible manner. If elected I will keep my promise that I will work honestly and diligently. There is a lot of things to look at going forward so without pre-empting but I know the challenge there are others who wanted to be Premier but I believe the mandate and this is very serious also that candidates should look at the election results especially the common roll because it was a challenging poll, 26 candidates and to come out on top of this poll indicates that people need change and I think I am humbly speaking, the people who are looking at leading the country but I speak with honesty based on the results on Saturday but also I think people believe in me looking at my work record, behavior and respect all through those years.”
Hipa’s priorities if elected as Premier is to firstly find out the financial position of the government of Niue to carry out his campaign promises in aiding for the families and the people.
Based on what he has seen from going around the island and what he has been told, living conditions need assistance., child allowance which he says have been neglected for years. Benefits for the elderly will continue and aiding also for children and mothers.
He adds he will consult with the government on immediate, medium, and long term plans.