Umno supreme council member Ahmad Maslan had underestimated discontent among BN component parties on proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1065, said former MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek.
He said BN component parties are concerned that the proposed amendments, which would extend the limits on punishment which the Syariah courts could mete out, was in violation of Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law.
"All important matters must be discussed within BN. Without this process, we cannot decide on whether to support or oppose the amendments.
"I think Ahmad underestimated the views of BN component parties. The amendments will violate Article 8. MCA, Gerakan and MIC should object to it," Chua told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today.
Chua, who was MCA president from March 2010 to December 2013, was asked to respond to Ahmad's claim that BN component parties were unable to object to a private member's bill which proposed the amendments once it was taken over by Putrajaya.
The relevant motion was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat last month and would be debated during the next session in March.
Putrajaya had announced that once the matter reached the second reading phase, it would be taken over as a government bill.
Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi promised that non-Muslim lawmakers would be able to provide input on the bill at the select committee stage. Details of the committee had yet to be announced.
Ahmad's comments, said Chua, likely stemmed from the fact that MCA president Liow Tiong Lai had promised that MCA would not back the bill because it was brought by an opposition lawmaker.
"Liow did the right thing, but Ahmad may have extrapolated what was said and simplified the matter by saying: If Umno takes over, MCA will support.
"That is not correct," said Chua.
On whether Ahmad's claim would affect BN's long-standing consensus seeking model, Chua replied in the negative.- Mkini