THE President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, made a rare public appearance at the opening of a luxury resort on Saturday.
Apparently in good health, Ratu Josefa delivered a prepared address to guests before taking part in activities associated with the opening.
It has been some months since the President was seen in public, leading to rumours about his health.
Hopefully, by attending the event on Saturday, public doubts about the health of the iTaukei Vunisei and the Tui Vuda will be allayed.
Unfortunately, it has been Ratu Josefa's low public profile which has fuelled speculation about his condition.
While the President is the Head of State, it is important to remember that he holds a public office and is paid by the taxpayers of this country.
The incumbent is, therefore, responsible for his actions to the people of Fiji and has a duty to each citizen of Fiji.
Increasingly, however, there appears to be a view within the higher echelons of the regime that the President is their personal property.
Members of the regime continue to refer to the "presidential mandate" given to them to administer the nation.
In effect, that mandate was never the President's to give.
Ratu Josefa was put in place by the regime and is subordinate to that authority.
His powers are superficial because he holds office at the pleasure of this administration.
That is why this newspaper will continue to call for the President to be elected by the people.
The decisions made in this high office affect the daily lives of the people of Fiji.
Laws to which the President gives assent have the potential to bring about good or bad.
This means the holder of such a high office must be mentally and physically capable of executing his or her duties.
The President must also be capable of challenging the Government on the decisions that it makes about national life.
It is for that reason that the holder of the office of President must be accountable directly to the people, not to elected – or in the present case, unelected – officials.
But that is a matter for an elected government to address.
For the time being, Ratu Josefa must be seen to become more active in national life.
It is at times like the present, when the nation is under internal and external threat, that the people look to a strong, father-like figure for guidance.
If there was ever a time when the President must make regular public appearances and speak to the nation, it is now.