Minding my business
I frequently write about the lack of transparency in decisions made by major Turkish technology companies, such as the Fatih project and national warship tenders, as well as the management of telecommunication firms. In almost every field, and in almost every tender, there are things happening that we cannot understand. The latest decision in this streak is Yiğit Bulut’s appointment to the board of Türk Telekom.
Many foreigners did not really know who or what kind of a man Bulut was until he suggested last year that Israel was trying to kill Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan through telekinesis. He said Israel was running many secret facilities where people were deliberately trying to hurt Erdoğan by means of thought power. He was first awarded with the position of senior advisor to the prime minister and now, together with his newly gained post, he will also serve as a board member for Türk Telekom.
Two people very close to Tayyip Erdoğan were recently assigned to Turkcell’s board. Four high ranking managers left Turkcell and on Tuesday six managers left Türk Telekom. It is still not known who will replace these 10 important posts.
Looking at these recent developments, one would think that the government is trying to own the telecommunications companies. The importance of the telecommunications sector was well-known to the government beforehand, but the way that protesters organized during Gezi and the manner in which the phone conversations were leaked really put the telecoms companies on the government’s radar. I believe that the government thinks it needs to have full control over telecom companies if it really wants to remain in power over the years to come.
However, telecommunications is a fragile industry. If the government continues to assign people with no experience in telecommunications or management to high positions, these brilliant companies will fail, sooner or later. This would negatively impact all the other industries, as telecoms are at the core of innovation and new ways of doing business.
I don’t know if the government knows this, but the competitive power of Turkey will greatly be harmed if we don’t have a strong ICT industry in the coming decade. Assigning Yiğit Bulut to Türk Telekom’s board and assigning people to Turkcell’s board based on their close ties to the government is not good. I wonder how they will explain these decisions at the upcoming investors meetings.
The worst thing is that they probably will not even try to rationalize these decisions, they will just say, “as investors you have gained money, haven’t you? So, mind your own business.” This is the ultimate answer to everything in Turkey these days. If anyone tries to ask a question or tries to criticize the government, everyone says “mind your own business.”
What if my business is minding how businesses do in Turkey, than what should I do? Should I not ask why Yiğit Bulut was chosen? Can I not ask which qualities make him a valid member of the nation’s most important landline communication company?