PUTRAJAYA - A draft of the National Harmony Bill, to replace the Sedition Act, is expected to be presented in Parliament by the end of next year.
However, until this new legislation is put into place, cases would be tried under existing laws, a statement from the Prime Minister's office here said.
"The Bill is intended to be a comprehensive, fair and lasting piece of legislation that promotes national harmony while protecting Malaysian citizens from racial or religious hatred.
"The drafting of the National Harmony Bill is taking time because it is being done in consultation with civil society and the public.
"A number of recommendations have been received, including from the National Unity Consultative Council, and are currently being studied.
"Like other countries, we are working to find the right balance between freedom of speech and national harmony in the age of online media.
"The Government welcomes feedback from all sections of society, and hopes to present the draft Bill to Parliament by the end of next year," the statement said.
"Any charges under the Sedition Act are a matter for the courts. Malaysia's judiciary is independent, as the verdicts of many cases prove," added the statement, which is an apparent response to recent criticisms on the sedition charges brought against several politicians.
They include Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer and MPs N. Surendran (Padang Serai) and Khalid Samad (Shah Alam).