The Democratic Party yesterday demanded an apology from Tung Chee-hwa for his handling of the financial crisis. Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief Joseph Yam Chi-kwong had also failed to handle the crisis properly, the party said. Reviewing the SAR's economic policy since July, party economic affairs spokesman Sin Chung-kai said there had been inaction on the part of the officials in the initial stage of the economic crisis. Conflicting messages had been given, confusing the public, he said. He listed miscalculation as the first of five mistakes. 'They have been championing unrealistic optimism, failing to seize opportunities at the right time and, as a result, did not implement the right policies in time to plug the loopholes,' said Mr Sin. In November, Mr Tsang predicted the financial turmoil would be over by Christmas. He later rejected suggestions of a budget deficit in June, to be followed by an official announcement a week later that the SAR faced a budget deficit of $21.4 billion for the 1998-99 financial year. Mr Sin also criticised Mr Yam for suggesting home buyers consider getting US dollar mortgages, and for using high interest rates to defend the peg, leading to runaway interbank lending rates. Mr Sin said an apology was the least the officials could do. 'Such mistakes would have led to calls for their resignations in other countries. The officials should make an apology to the people who are confused by their policies and public remarks,' he said. Mr Sin said the Legco's financial services panel should hold a public hearing to examine the Government's policies. The party said the Government's recently announced nine-month moratorium on land sales would benefit only major property developers. 'Small developers will only find it more difficult to survive because they lack a large land bank for property development,' Mr Sin said. He also blasted the lack of monitoring of companies involved in the stock and futures exchanges and the Government's rejection of fair competition legislation.