Mayor of Abemema, Kiribati

Abemama is an island of beautiful beaches with a crystal clear blue lagoon. In Abemama, you still can find physical evidence of American and Japanese World War II relics, cultural shrines, and sites/monuments relating to their traditional spirits and famous King Binoka.

Now Abemama is led by Mayor Linda Ueanteang who won 2016 election. Who is Linda Ueanteang? She was born on 22 October 1965 in Nauru from parents Hang Kum Kee and Terita Kwong.  Linda went to Tekatirirake Preschool on Abemama; then Lameko Primary School for her Class 1- 3 and later St. Peter’s Primary for Classes 4-7. In 1978, she entered the government secondary school, King George V & Elaine Bernacchy School, displaying her knack for leadership by becoming Captain of her class.

Linda went into business at an early age, when she was 25, owning some of the most famous spots, like the Captain’s Bar in Betio. She was also member of Board of Directors of various government corporations, including the Otintaai Hotel and the Bobotin Kiribati Ltd. She left business in 2014.

As a community member, she was very keen to do her share of the village work and always paid her contributions to good causes. She is a very determined woman, a trait she probably picked up from her strict maternal grandfather Taraia Kwong.

By entering local government politics, she followed no one’s advice but her own. During her campaigns, one of the major challenges she faced was strong opposition by her rivals and their supporters. Now that she is in power, the main challenge faced is implementing the idea and ensure the process is on the right time and schedule.

“It’s like all failures are mine, even when they have nothing to do with me,” Linda says. She said she just took them without any complaints.

“One of key achievements is the conversion of my rivals to become my strong supporters” said Linda. This happened because she made it a point to visit them in their homes to update them on decisions of the Council and news and information from the central government in Tarawa.

Linda has been exposed to many international conferences and visited China in 2012, as part of the Kiribati Chamber of Commerce’s delegation, and in 2014 in a trip to Samoa, being one of the Chambers’ Directors. She found the Samoa meeting very encouraging, since most of the CEOs who participated were women. In 2013, she visited New Zealand as a Bobotin Kiribati Limited Director, for trading purposes. In another trip to Fiji in 2005, she was attached to the Fiji Employers Federation for six months.

Mayor Linda has implemented her knowledge on fisheries obtained from international conferences to Abemama. As one of Kiribati administration, Abemama has top commercial products such as lobster and trochus. This is one cooperation with China to produce high quality fishery products. Now she is focusing on new marine resource management, developing a programme to monitor reef fin fish, creating marine protected areas for food fish species for long-term basis.