KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia –Prime Minister Najib Razak said Wednesday (July 11th) the government will repeal its colonial-era Sedition Act and replace it with a "National Harmony Act", according to AFP.
"The new act will safeguard the right to freedom of speech while protecting national unity by preventing the incitement of religious or ethnic hatred," Najib said during a speech at the attorney general's chambers.
"(The) Sedition Act represents a bygone era in our country, and with today's announcement we mark another step forward in Malaysia's development," he said.
But MP Nurul Izzah Anwar – daughter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim – said Najib's promise to abolish the sedition law "smacks of hypocrisy".
"Clearly, Najib had proven himself to be a false democrat when one takes a closer look at his list of false reforms," she said, describing recent laws as equally draconian and arbitrary as old ones.
A new law called the Peaceful Assembly Act was being used to persecute her father for participating in an April mass rally for electoral reform, she said.
Anwar is facing three charges under the law, including encouraging a "riot" during the rally, which could see him jailed and barred from politics.
Najib must call polls by March next year. The opposition has set its sights on wresting power from the ruling coalition, which has governed Malaysia for half a century.