Speaker Çiçek slams pension hike critics as ‘sycophants’
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek (C) speaks to reporters yesterday during his visit to the Hak-İş Trade Union Confederation. AA photoParliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek has said the controversial law that hiked lawmakers’ pensions was necessary and called criticism of the move “popular sycophancy” following calls on the president to veto the bill.
“The bill came from a necessity, and thus the changes were made,” Çiçek told reporters yesterday, insisting the bill was passed as a result of a cross-party compromise. Those who criticize the bill were engaged in an act of “popular sycophancy,” the speaker said, and no deputy has so far forfeited the hike.
Speaking on the private TV8 channel later in the day, Çiçek said Parliament members had heavy expenditures, including those during election time, but received no financial support from the state, unlike public employees. “A deputy drives himself to work, pays for the gas. But even an ordinary director has a driver, a car, and government housing,” he said. “Deputies’ salaries do not stay with them. It may seem like salaries are given to individuals, but it is more paid to the institution of deputyship.”
Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, who issued a veiled call on President Abdullah Gül to veto the bill, stood behind his criticism of the increase yesterday and said he was receiving thank you messages for his stance.
Speaking at a ceremony to commemorate Mehmet Akif Ersoy, the author of Turkey’s national anthem, Günay said today’s politicians must learn from the poet. “The life of Akif, who refused to take the award for the anthem, serves as a political and moral example.”
The amendments, which raised lawmaker pensions from 4,980 Turkish Liras to about 8,000, were rushed through Parliament without any debate Dec. 22. An initial proposal fixing the pensions to 40 percent of the president’s salary was followed by a second one that raised the rate to 60 percent.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has disowned the legislation and said it will ask the Constitutional Court to scrap it if Gül signs it into law.