For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Oct 29, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan economist and opposition United National Party lawmaker Harsha De Silva has defended his criticism of government policy, saying efforts to tarnish critics were uncalled for.
“Dissent is a natural part of a true democracy,” he said after a stock brokering firm in a report called for the elimination of critics.
“I have been one of the most vocal critics of the government’s economic policy for a number of years,” De Silva told a news conference.
“I have a right to criticize the government’s economic policy not only as a citizen of this country but as parliamentarian and an economist as well.”
De Silva’s comments came in response to a call by a stock broking firm to identify and eliminate “traitors” who may question a “noble” government goal of making the Sri Lankan “motherland” a financial hub of South Asia.
“I’ am a citizen of this country and love this country that is why I criticize policies,” De Silva said.
The call made by the stock broking firm has stirred up a storm in the past few days.
Earlier this week Sri Lanka’s Daily FT business daily said the call was contained in a note to clients by Capital Trust, a stock broking firm.
The note had said a war against “saboteurs, traitors and subversive elements,” is continuing.
It said the government’s “noble goal of making our motherland the ‘Financial Hub of South Asia’ and the ‘Economic Miracle of Asia’ will remain as empty slogans unless these disruptive elements who are ‘perched comfortably on the horns and devouring up the ears’ are identified immediately and eliminated early.”
“The use of words like ‘saboteurs, traitors and subversive elements’ is totally uncalled for,” De Silva said.
The newspaper said some of the recipients of the emailed note were “furious over the call for the elimination of so called ‘traitors’ who criticize the Government’s economic management in general”.