It would be disastrous if BN anchor party Umno decides to move unilaterally on amendments to Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 without input from coalition partners, said MCA.
MCA religious harmony bureau chief Ti Lian Ker said this in response to Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's announcement that government will take over PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang's private member's bill to amend the Act.
"We will not speculate on the proposed amendments that has been taken over by BN. We shall wait for further and better particulars before commenting further.
"Any differences shall be ironed out in the BN spirit of consensus building unless the people or Umno no longer subscribe to this spirit of consensus building under the BN practice or convention.
"If that is so... this would spell oncoming disaster for the future harmony of the nation," he said in a statement today.
Zahid, who is also deputy prime minister, was reported yesterday as saying that the government will "table the Act 355 (amendment) on its own in Parliament soon".
The ongoing Dewan Rakyat sitting will coninue until April 6.
Amendments must be constitutional
Previously, BN component parties including MIC, MCA and parties from Sarawak had vowed to oppose the amendments.
Ti said MCA's stand remains that it will oppose any amendments which are not consistent with the Federal Constitution.
"Taking my personal thoughts further, ideally if there is a criminal act that involves or affects the non-Muslims, the law applicable should be civil law and not Syariah law.
"This is particularly so when syariah laws of evidence or criminal procedures appears to have discriminated against non-Muslims and women irrespective of faith," said Ti, who is also a practising lawyer.
The original amendment sought to grant the syariah courts powers to mete out punishments without limits, with the exception of the death sentence.
After negotiations between PAS and the Umno-led government, Abdul Hadi agreed to amend the proposal.
It would instead increase the punishment limit that the syariah courts can mete out from three years' imprisonment, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the rotan to 30 years' imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the rotan.
Abdul Hadi subsequently tabled the amended motion in Parliament in November but he again postponed the debate, citing the need to give time to MPs to examine the changes made.- Mkini