Government defends bill favoring MPs despite harsh criticism

Government defends bill favoring MPs despite harsh criticism

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Government defends bill favoring MPs despite harsh criticism

The bill will give traffic immunity to lawmakers. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan drives a car during a metro opening ceremony in Istanbul in this photo. Hürriyet photo

Government officials defended a controversial new bill allowing lawmakers extreme benefits despite negative reactions from the public and politicians to the proposed changes.

Opposition members and unions expressed dissatisfaction with the proposal but Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç dismissed the criticisms, claiming criticism would soon fade away.

Arınç cited a previous social services regulation that was also heavily criticized in its day. “Look, none of those criticisms remain today, which means that what is passed today and is being criticized today will surely be forgotten tomorrow.”

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek also defended the bill, which oversees traffic immunity and lifetime diplomatic passports for lawmakers, in addition to extreme health benefits, saying nothing exists in the bill other than the existent rights.

Çiçek cited troubles regarding protocol arrangements ahead of the coming national holidays. “We need a status law that would clear out all the confusion and chaos. It would be more beneficial to look at it that way.”

The union heads, however, disagreed with government officials, with Independent Public Workers’ Unions (BASK) head Resul Akay accusing the regulations of “aiming to create a masters’ status.”

“I find it saddening that parties who fail to agree on anything agreed on this,” Akay was quoted as saying by daily Hürriyet.

Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) head Lami Özgen also accused lawmakers of trying to make a higher privileged class for themselves. “Those who wish to stop workers’ rights act very differently when it is about their own rights. For a lawmaking body that sees retirement fit for only workers in their graves, it is immoral and unlawful to bring forth a privileged status for themselves.”

CHP deputy opposes

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aytuğ Atıcı had earlier told Anatolia news agency that he believed lawmakers should only be allowed immunity during their time in Parliament, but not in their private lives, where they should have “no difference from the regular citizen.”

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group chair Oktay Vural also expressed dissatisfaction with the new law. “I have nothing to say. I don’t feel at ease saying nothing, but nothing I said will have any effect on it,” Vural said.

The much-debated bill grants lawmakers benefits regarding passports, ID cards, health and funeral expenses, social facilities, travel expenses, protocol lineups and traffic immunity and priority. The proposed bill will be sent to a parliamentary commission in the coming days. If it passes, every individual who has been elected to Parliament once will enjoy the benefits for life.