The three-minute silence for victims of the Asia tsunami is "the worst kind of gesture politics", according to the Conservative Party vice-chairman.
Roger Gale accused the government of "lagging behind" the public
Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet in Kent, said the UK public did not need a "state-imposed" silence to express their feelings.
His comments came on the day a missing family from his constituency were found to be safe and well in Indonesia.
People across the UK fell silent for three minutes at midday on Wednesday.
Mr Gale said: "I believe that this is the wrong initiative at the wrong time.
"Some self-styled 'world-leaders' - including the prime minister - have shown very little leadership when it has been needed in recent days.
"Those present in this country at the weekend are well aware that people of all denominations and faiths gathered in places of worship to mourn their dead and to pray for the missing and the injured.
"They do not need a state-imposed three-minute pause to underline their feelings at this stage.
"There will, certainly, come a time when a proper memorial service and silence of an appropriate length might be held but that time is not now.
"Now, we need to get on with the job of assembling and shipping aid and committing the government machine to match the public support of the rescue, salvage and re-construction programme."
Mr Gale said people who agreed with him might wish to donate money to the fund to aid victims "rather than participating in an ill-thought-through endeavour to salve the consciences of some politicians who, when needed, have been found wanting".
A Conservative Party Spokesman said: "Michael Howard observed the three-minute silence and believes it was an opportunity for people in this country to show their respect for those who have lost their lives in the Asian tsunami.
"He disagrees with the views expressed by Roger Gale."
A family from Mr Gale's constituency had been missing in Indonesia, but on Wednesday - the day of the MP's comments - it emerged they were safe and well.
Gareth and Floryda Smith and their children Joshua, six, and Zurubbabel, nine, from Herne Bay, were visiting Mrs Smith's mother over Christmas.
Mr Smith's brother was called by the British Consulate to say they had been found in the capital Jakarta.