Bill seeking more deputy privileges stirs controversy

If approved in Parliament, the bill will help deputies be exempt from paying traffic fines, their vehicles will have right-of-way over other vehicles as ambulances and police vehicles do and they will be entitled to a life-long diplomatic passport.

Bill seeking more deputy privileges stirs controversy

World Bulletin/News Desk

A bill that seeks to give greater rights and privileges to deputies has created controversy among the country's politicians, with some defending and others objecting to the proposals.

The bill was jointly prepared by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

If approved in Parliament, the bill will help deputies be exempt from paying traffic fines, their vehicles will have right-of-way over other vehicles as ambulances and police vehicles do and they will be entitled to a life-long diplomatic passport.

The proposal has been submitted to the Parliament Speaker's Office and is expected to be forwarded to the relevant commission soon.

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek spoke to reporters about the bill on Thursday and denied some media reports that deputies will receive higher salaries thanks to the bill. "The bill has nothing to do with salaries. It brings together all rights of deputies under a joint roof," he noted. He also recalled that the bill was jointly prepared by all four political parties in Parliament.

Also on Thursday, MHP deputy Özcan Yeniçeri defended the bill, saying he was once offended when his driver was asked to show his driver's license during a traffic stop.

According to the deputy, it is a necessary amendment that should be taken in stride. He defended the privileges sought in the bill, recounting an incident he had experienced.

“We were once traveling to Kütahya with another deputy in a relatively speedy car. A police officer stopped us and said our car was caught speeding by a radar gun. The driver said there were two deputies in the car, but the officer further asked to see his driver's license. I got very offended by this attitude,” Yeniçeri said, adding that the officer could have been more kind towards them because of their status as deputies.

The bill also guarantees current and former lawmakers the right to possess firearms. Funeral ceremonies for deputies that are held in provinces other than the capital, Ankara, will also be organized by the relevant governor's office and lawmakers will be treated as high-ranking officials in public facilities.

CHP Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin, however, expressed criticism of the bill. He said he could not agree with legislation that would bring greater privileges to deputies.

"People work for minimum wage in this country. There are even people who do not earn minimum wage. Under such conditions, I do not find it appropriate to give further privileges to deputies," he complained.

The deputy also said he does not know the exact content of the bill and he was not in Parliament when the four parties convened to discuss it. "I read about the bill in newspapers. So, I do not know what exactly the bill contains," he added.

Commenting on the bill, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said it should be questioned why the four parties, which managed to reconcile over the bill, have failed to reach a consensus over the new constitution currently being drafted.

He pointed out that the four parties also managed to reach an agreement over some draft laws, such as a law on combating violence in sports, in the past. However, a similar agreement has not been achieved on the issue of the new constitution, he said.

A new constitution is currently being drafted at the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission. The commission has three members from each of the four political parties represented in Parliament. However, members of the commission have stark differences over many topics, which has made it hard to complete the new document.

Last Mod: 10 Mayıs 2013, 12:34
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