Çiçek ignores calls on education draft
‘Only the people can decide whether I’m a wise man or an incapable one,’ Parliament Speaker Çiçek says in a written statement in response to a CHP deputy. AA Photo
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek ignored opposition calls to nullify the recent education bill’s approval at the Education Commission and passed the issue to the General Assembly yesterday, infuriating the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
“We would have liked the Speaker to act as a wise man, but he has declared he is an incapable man,” the CHP’s Akif Hamzaçebi said, adding that he would boycott meetings of Parliament’s Consultation Board. Çiçek has lost his credibility in CHP eyes, he added.
Çiçek maintained that he was not legally empowered to make a decision on whether the March 11 vote at the Commission, which took place amid fistfights and without any debate on the draft, complied with Parliament’s procedural rules. “If there is a disagreement on the internal regulations, the place to discuss this appears to be the General Assembly,” he told reporters.
In a written statement, Çiçek also responded to Hamzaçebi’s statement, saying that “only the people can decide whether I’m a wise man or an incapable one.”
CHP deputy chairman Nihat Maktap said the planned education reform had now gone beyond being simply a parliamentary affair.
“The issue has evolved into a concern that the state’s principles of democracy and secularism, which have been achieved at a great price, will regress,” he said.
Matkap officially announced that the CHP would hold its parliamentary group meeting on March 27 in the form of a rally at Ankara’s Tandoğan square. The education bill is expected to hit Parliament’s floor the same day. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has warned that group meetings could be held only in Parliament.
Under the bill, designed to introduce 12-year compulsory education, the government is planning to re-open the secondary stage of imam-hatip high schools and launch Quranic studies as an elective course in regular schools. Other controversial provisions envisage decreasing the school starting age to five years and paving the way for distance learning after eight years of regular classes.