The chats must have bumped up the average reading rate of the Maltese public something fierce

No. 184 – Ros & Yors 4 Eva

Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar (left) and author Mark Camilleri
Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar (left) and author Mark Camilleri

What are we skinning? Author, historian and former Malta Book Council Chairman Mark Camilleri’s decision to publish an extensive transcript of WhatsApp chats between PL backbencher Rosianne Cutajar and alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination mastermind Yorgen Fenech, ahead of the former’s libel case against Camilleri going to court.

Why are we skinning it? Because it’s been on everyone’s minds, lips and the memes they consume over the past week. Really, it doesn’t get more ‘skinniable’ than this.

Shouldn’t these chats be the prerogative of the courts? Technically, yes.

Then why isn’t this an open and shut case, one that is most decidedly NOT in Camilleri’s favour? Partly because the content leaves a white-hot blast radius that nullifies all else in terms of public perception, for reasons that are both edifying and not.

What’s the other reason? Let’s just say that content matters, and that there’s very little about this that is ‘open and shut’.

You know you CAN elaborate, if you want to... Okay, I will. The chats do not only regale us with tales of onanistic prowess and dubious metaphors involving Cordina pastizzi. They are also a literal, black-on-white representation of how the collusion between politics and big business pans out in this country.

You’re saying they offer an x-ray into the machinations of Maltese corruption? You can sometimes be far more eloquent than me, and that makes me feel both insecure and proud.

It’s a mix of emotions I’ve picked up on while parsing through ‘Ros & Yors’ unbeatable (!) two-hander (!). The puns write themselves. They’ve already written themselves in fact. To oblivion.

But do you honestly think that the majority of the population will pick up on the deeper implications of it, or will they just coast on the superficialities and forget about the whole thing soon after? Look, one leak (!) will not topple an entire political super-structure. But there’s some value in the erstwhile emperors being discovered with no clothes on (!).

What value would that be? A chipping away at political omertà. An example – for the ages – of how sleazy, petty and ugly such an unholy alliance can be. How driven it is by petty interests and a blatant disregard for the common good.

But we cannot rely on such vindictive actions to guarantee a level playing field, in the long run. We cannot and we shouldn’t. But we SHOULD ask ourselves why this feels like such a cathartic lightning bolt for Maltese society as a whole.

Do say: “There may be a legalistic case to be made for the publication of these chats in a public forum when they should have technically remained in State custody to serve towards Yorgen Fenech’s case. Neither should we dismiss issues pertaining to personal (online) privacy, and the right to even public individuals to enjoy a reasonable measure of it. But the chats do not merely traffic in prurient gossip – they reveal, black-on-white, how the rot of corruption can take hold, and how it justifies itself and continues to proliferate.”

Don’t say: “Mark Camilleri continues to prove how he was a more than adequate candidate for his post as National Book Council Chairman. The chats must have bumped up the average reading rate of the Maltese public something fierce.”