Emojis can say a lot about you, apparently. According to the teenagers at home, I’m “such a typical boomer”. Only boomers, they claim, send text messages tailed by the hands-in-prayer emoji instead of writing ‘please’.
“I am not a boomer,” I said in defence. “I was born three whole decades after the war, so I am Generation X, thank you very much.” Unfortunately, that was also the wrong thing to say. “Ok, Boomer, chill,” came the reply, with an eyeroll and a pat on the arm. “It’s not about age, Ma, it’s about the vibe.” Vibe, you see, is the answer to everything these days, sigh.
In any case, at the risk of sounding boomer-y, today I want to talk about three particular emojis which fascinate me and which I think perfectly depict what is happening in Malta. Indeed, if this column were a text message, I would just insert the three emoji-monkeys: one covering its eyes, the other its ears and the other its mouth. Or Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru, as they are known in Japan. But what’s in a name? We can call them, say, George, Joseph and Edward.
Of course, this symbol goes centuries back beyond smartphones and texts. Confucius, the Chinese philosopher came up with it way back in the second century BC. The monkeys symbolise lack of moral responsibility, people who turn a blind eye and feign ignorance. In a nutshell, the symbol of the monkeys signifies omertà, the blood sister of mafia.
Following the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was blown up while uncovering corrupt practices in the Maltese government, top people in government suddenly turned into these monkeys: “Who me? I was not aware of anything! There was no evidence!”
Let’s take the President of Malta, George Vella, by way of example. He can’t flick his hands fast enough between his mouth, eyes and ears. There was “no evidence”, he said of all the corruption happening under his very own nose when he was foreign minister from 2013 to 2017; “no evidence” that the opening of secret companies in Panama by the then prime minister’s most trusted people was wrong; no evidence that Pilatus Bank was the money laundering machine it was claimed to be.
He did not need “evidence”. His job was not to be Inspector Columbo. His sole job was to have the political judgement to understand that if his colleagues opened secret companies in Panama, then they were obviously up to no good.
He [George Vella] did not need ‘evidence’. His job was not to be Inspector Columbo- Kristina Chetcuti
He can’t claim that he was unaware of what was happening because Daphne was flagging it in one exclusive post after another; the opposition did not stop talking about it in parliament and outside; and the independent media were unearthing one story after the next.
President Vella knew, of course. It’s just that he pressed his hands tightly over his eyes and ears. His mouth, he uncovered to vote in favour of the alleged crooks and to attack with vicious speeches all those who were speaking out to seek justice and a clean government.
Now, as president, he says that he’d like Malta to turn a new page and move on. He also hinted that he’d like to pay a visit to the memorial spontaneously set up by the people on the Great Siege Monument after Daphne’s assassination. He got his chance on Monday during the Victory Day commemoration. It was the perfect time to pay his tribute to Daphne and to the fight for justice and to the importance of freedom of speech. Instead, those running the ceremony got all the protest signs cleared. It is something they only do in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The president likes to remind us that he’s a doctor. In his presidential role, he’s a doctor of the nation and he is repeatedly failing to give the soul of the nation basic CPR. That can only be because his own moral compass is compromised. His omertà enables the mafia.
Another septuagenarian, who was in the thick of the corruption manoeuvres and who, as finance minister, signed the ok to the corruption deals with our tax money, was Edward Scicluna. He silently collaborated because he could see “no evidence” and the only time he uncovered his mouth was to say: “U ejja, come on.” He is now holding the prestigious role of governor of Malta’s Central Bank, after allowing Malta to thrive as a money-laundering hub. He will go down in history as a greedy, cowardly, unconscientious governor, specially fit for a greylisted Malta.
Clearly, Monkey George and Monkey Edward worked to please Monkey Joseph Muscat, whose best friends were the prime movers of all the corrupt deals. The three of them have blood on their hands because, as employees of the state, their duty was not to turn a blind eye but to protect each and every citizen. Had they done so, Daphne would not have been assassinated and Malta would not be in the sewer it is now.
My hope lies in the future generation.
Malta’s Gen Z-ers will, hopefully, grow up to do away with the culture of Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru. Their monkeys will be holding their hands to their eyes to see better; will be cupping their hands around the ears to hear better; and hold their hands to their mouth like a megaphone, to speak louder. I hope their vibe will be: hear, see and speak out loud for what you stand for.
In the meantime, I think the only thing we can do is put our palms together and pray that justice prevails.
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