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Raho – Elevala’s Finest

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It’s a name that’s associated with hard work, perseverance and success.  An association built by his grandfather, the hardworking, former Scout master the no-nonsense Raho Misi and one that goes as far back as the 1930’s.

It’s fair to say that the younger Raho followed in the footsteps of his grandfather in terms of the mental aptitude.  But last Saturday’s surprising event took a completely different turn.  A turn that took him closer to his name sake, perhaps too early.

Mr Raho Samuel was appointed by the then Prime Minister Peter O’Neil as the Insurance Commissioner on 8 March 2018 with a four year term.  It was a well deserved appointment – merit, experience and loyalty to the office. Mr Samuel ticked all the boxes and more.  But with just over two years on the job, it all came to an abrupt end in the early hours of Saturday, 23 May 2020. Just a over a week earlier, he had celebrated his 52nd birthday.

The Late Raho Samuel with Governor General Sir Bob Dadae on his swearing in as Commissioner

In the office

The late Raho Samuel played a hands on role as Commissioner for the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. There were three key aspects in which he tried to change or improve the insurance industry. Changes that must continue to be pushed on for the betterment of the industry.

In an interview with the Oxford Business Group late last year, the late Commissioner believed that amending the country’s current insurance law was important to give the office more power to enforce prudential standards and general regulatory compliance in the industry. He said:

…this will contribute to good corporate governance because insurance companies will have to make sure they are operating appropriately. Among other things, this will ensure that they are transparent and act according to the stipulations of the law.

For new business entrants in the industry, Mr Samuel looked beyond the traditional capital requirements when considering licenses and looked to competitors that would add value or innovation in the insurance sector. This approach resulted in the licensing of a new entrant that focused on providing health insurance to public sector employees – something that no other company was doing.

Perhaps the other notable area the late Commissioner looked at was the improvement of the domestic insurance market. He wanted to help local players in the market.

With concerns that a significant amount of business in the general insurance was flowing out of the country annually, Mr Samuel believed that it was important to improve the domestic underwriting requirements and capital base to compete and “counteract” this trend.

This would make domestic insurers more competitive relative to their foreign rivals….Sound management and underwriting practices can make the difference…

Some say, the general insurance industry in the country seemed somewhat “archaic”. Others say lack of compliance or reporting was an issue too. And it’s fair to say, Mr Samuel with a more innovative and “hands-on” approach wanted more “teeth” and perhaps a more “level playing field”.

Out of office

Mr Samuel was quite the opposite out of the office.

Opposite in the sense that despite holding a respected position, many came to know him as “down to earth” and someone who you could share a joke and have a beer discussing anything and everything.

An avid rugby league supporter and a father figure and administrator of his beloved City Dogs rugby league team.

The Late Mr Samuel with good friend Mr Agalu Gavera. Mr Samuel, wearing his City Dogs official shirt.

Mr Samuel self-sponsored the team. In ordering the team’s rugby league uniforms for the annual Southern Rugby League 9’s last year, Mr Samuel was seen as persistent but not pushy. He was respectful. Running out of time in getting the uniforms for the team, Mr Samuel went as far as advising how best to get the uniforms, the courier companies to use and how to track them. He wanted to have a “hands-on” in the process so that he could deliver what he had promised to a team comprising of many talented yet unemployed youths.

He just had ways to go over hurdles and much to the suppliers’ surprise, the uniforms, all custom made, arrived from overseas in a record 11 days – consider the manufacturing process, the 3 different countries the package passed through to arrive at his beloved Elevala. The popular saying “where there is a will, there is a way” holds so true in this situation.

Mr Samuel’s love of the Doggies also resembles perfectly with his grandfather Raho Misi’s love of the Scouting movement. In a newspaper interview about his enthusiasm for Scouts, the elder Raho was quoted:

In Scouting you have to work without any financial reward… But that’s nothing, if you enjoy Scouting as much as I do.

From the Post Courier article in 1972 title “Still a Scout- After 42 Years”

Perhaps the same could be said of Raho’s love of the Doggies – no financial reward just for the love it.

The name Raho is indeed – Elevala’s finest.

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