Sunday, April 20, 2008


The road to success was never easy for Anare Jale. Fishing, farming and collecting coconuts on the island of Ono-i-Lau were the push factors that made him even more determined to make something better of his life.
Not only did he survive village life, he was blessed to excel academically despite the hardships his family faced.
As far as he can remember, his father was always proud of him when it came to his education.
In 1956, he attended Onolevu District School. Naturally intelligent, where Anare was always placed first or second in class.
"In Ono-i-Lau, there are four villages and the primary school was located in our village. During that time, school children from the other villages on the other outer islands had to travel to school by boat," he said.
"At times their boats would get caught in the bad weather. It was very dangerous so another school was built in another village.
"The struggles I faced in life made me want to be successful. I was determined to be successful. I always excelled at school right from primary school. It was either I came first or second in class. Whatever my position, my father was always proud"
In his final year at primary school, his class performed a drama.
He said they were all given roles to play and coincidentally his teacher picked him to be the turaga ni koro.
It was this special title in the drama that made him want to help develop his village. He said despite having that pretend title, he somewhat felt it was his responsibility to help his people and the village.
He then moved to Viti Levu for the first time to attend Ratu Kadavulevu School as a boarder.
Like all boarding schools, life is never easy. Luckily for Anare, his nurtured survival skills from the village came in handy. However, when he started school at RKS, he was only able to speak Ono.
"I spoke fluent Ono and I was given the name 'vakavanua'. The things my father taught me back in the village got me through boarding school.
"Life was tough though especially in an all-boys school. The older big boys used to bully a lot. My father taught me to stand up and fight. So that's what I did. I fought and stood up for those who were bullied at school.
"One thing I dislike is seeing people being mistreated. So at school, I used to be the protector because I used to stand and fight the bullies.
"On a particular occasion, I almost lost the opportunity to succeed when I wanted to run away from school after a severe beating from a teacher."
He and his best friend, who was his best man at his wedding to Emele Duituturaga last week, were fooling around without realising their teacher was watching them.
His teacher then got a four-by-two piece of wood lying near the school's wooden boiler and used it to as a discipline tool.
"After that beating, I couldn't walk. Early in the morning, I was in pain and I decided to run away from school. I thought to myself that if my parents did not do this to me, then I might as well go home to them.
"I was in Form Four at the time. I started planning what to do. That night I slept with my shirt and khaki shorts.
"At three o' clock in the morning, I left school with a cane knife. The roads that time were very bad and I had to walk from there to Korovou. It was still dark that morning.
"I saw the Lodoni bus and I knew the trend with paying bus fare. People trusted each other and some would enter the bus and pay when they got off.
"So I walked in the bus trying very hard to pretend to have money to go to Suva.
"When I reached Nausori, I got off and hid in the washroom. I then walked to Tovata, in Laqere, where my father was."
Surprised to see him, his father knew instantly something was wrong.
After massaging his back to ease the pain, his father then encouraged him to go back to school.
His other option was to go back to the village and cut copra. He weighed his options and decided to give his education another go.
Completing Form Three to Five at RKS, he then moved on to complete Form Six at Suva Grammar School. "Apart from my academic performance, I excelled at sports especially rugby. I was a member of the Fiji Secondary Schools rugby team in 1969. We played in Tonga and I was a winger," he said.
He went on to graduate from Victoria University, in Wellington, New Zealand with a Diploma in Industrial Relations. He obtained a Certificate in Industrial Relations and Manpower Panning from the External Division of Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
Since then, he has slowly climbed up the ladder to success, starting as a labour inspector with the Ministry of Labour in 1970 and in 1991, he was promoted to chief labour officer where he was ultimately second in charge of the ministry.
He was responsible for the day to day operations of the ministry.
Anare was responsible for providing technical advice to the Permanent Secretary and the minister on issues relating to labour laws, trade disputes, trade unions and International Labour Organisation conventions and articles.
He held that rank until 1995.
"I was appointed Registrar of Trade Unions, he said.
"I was responsible for the administration of the Trade Union Act and Industrial Association Act.
"I was instrumental in the drafting and enactment of the Health and Safety Act. From 1995 to 1996, I was then the deputy secretary for regional development.
"I was responsible to the Permanent Secretary for the day to day operation of the ministry.
"Divisional commissioners reported on the operations of the divisional offices.
"There were times when I would preside over monthly meetings held with senior ministry officials and divisional commissioners."
His thesis for his Diploma in Industrial Relations from Victoria University titled Third Party Interventions in Trade Disputes in Fiji formed the basis of the Trade Disputes Act.
In 1997, he moved up a notch to become Permanent Secretary for Labour and Industrial Relations.
During that time, he was Fiji's director for the Asian Productivity Organisation responsible for the promotion and productivity in the Pacific and Asian countries.
"From 1999 to November 2000, I was the Secretary for the Public Service.
"I was the secretary for the commission.
"That meant I was responsible for all staff matters for the department.
"Being the chief accounting officer as well, I was responsible to the Ministry of Finance on the department's budget.
"In November 2001 to February 2004, I was appointed Fiji's ambassador to the United States of America and Mexico.
"I represented Fiji in meetings with other countries in the world to discuss diplomatic relationship, bilateral and multilateral relationships as well.
"I was even fortunate to meet one of the most powerful men in the world, the President of the US George Bush.
"He is a very polite and lovely person. My brief encounter with him was when I presented credentials. "He is very gentle and very down to earth."
He played an important role in the reintroduction of the US Peace Corps in Fiji after its withdrawal.
As ambassador, he was expected to explore trade and tourism opportunities for Fiji, including meeting with interested investors.
He even organised the first-ever joint Fiji Day celebration for Fiji nationals living in the US and Hawaii.
In 2004, he was chairman of the Fiji National Provident Fund and was responsible for implementing investment and risk policies.
Under his chairmanship, a community service fund donating funds and providing help to charity organisations was set up.
From March 2004 to January 2007, he was chief executive officer of the Public Service Commission.
Now retired, he has continued his involvement in community work.
He is advisor to the Ono-i-Lau Tikina Women's Group, director of Yatulau Company Limited as well as chairman of the Ono-i-Lau Development Committee.
"I feel I have an obligation to my people.
"I was born on the island and I have experienced the kind of hardship the people face.
"I want to help get them out of poverty and this is something I like doing.
"I have never regretted anything in life.
"I work with women's group because women play a vitally important role in development.
"They are the best managers. So far we have installed a solar pump and a saw mill," said Mr Jale.
Development plans are under way to rejuvenate the sandalwood industry, with marketing potential on the islands in Ono.

10 Things about Anare Jale:

Loves soup;
- favourite drink is bu;
- likes gardening and cricket;
- an ardent reader;
- a prompt person — strict on timing;
- a man of few words, prefers to work than talk;
- Lkes soothing island music, dislikes English songs;
- used to be a preacher;
- former member of the Fiji Medical School;
- former chairman and member of Fiji National Training Council (TPAF)

Adapted from Fijitimes Online 20/04/2008