After years of attacking government policies and demanding universal suffrage, the Democratic Party has come under attack itself for the first time from protesters in the annual July 1 march, which it helped to organise. The party and its ailing co-founder Szeto Wah - who turned out in a wheelchair under blazing sun despite fighting late-stage lung cancer - were subjected to verbal abuse and got into a minor scuffle with protesters lashing out at the party for backing the government's political reforms. Placards, banners, stickers and T-shirts criticising the party were distributed to people at the starting point of the rally in Victoria Park. When party members gathered at the park half an hour before the march started, protesters chanted: 'Shame on you, Democratic Party, for selling out Hong Kong people'. Others spread ritual paper money in front of Szeto in a symbolic act of condemnation. Szeto remained calm as he responded: 'Selling out? How much have I gained? Please say what you are accusing us of selling?' The party veteran, who left the rally in Causeway Bay after a short time for a rest, said he hoped his accusers 'can learn more about the issue before making such accusations'. Hundreds of Democratic Party supporters, led by chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan and vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, with most of the party's lawmakers, were continuously under attack during the four-hour rally. About 40 protesters surrounded party leaders, some holding placards and shouting slogans, such as 'Kick out Democratic Party,' and 'Selling out Hong Kong at a critical time.' Protesters who tried to rush into the crowd of party supporters got into minor scuffles before being pushed away. Some were young people, including doctoral student Cheung Ka-wo, joining the rally for the first time, who said the Democratic Party had 'hijacked public opinion on political reform'. A group of middle-aged men also strongly criticised the party but they refused to reply to questions about their views. Uniformed and plain-clothes police officers deployed to maintainlaw and order concentrated on the area around the Democratic Party. Ho said he was not worried about the 'misunderstanding and blame' displayed yesterday. 'Time will prove what the Democratic Party does,' he said. He said the party had not given up fighting for democracy and universal suffrage, despite voting for the reforms, which included amendments proposed by the party. The party shouted slogans of 'abolish functional constituencies, fight for universal suffrage', countering accusations that its government-approved proposal for five new district council seats to be filled by direct election was de facto acceptance that functional constituencies should remain. When the party reached the booth of the League of Social Democrats in Causeway Bay, both sides exchanged catcalls. League chairman Wong Yuk-man bowed to the crowd to express dissatisfaction about the Democratic Party's stance on political reform. But the league also came in for its share of criticism with lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung who has been widely condemned for suggesting Szeto's cancer cells had 'spread to his brain' - was splashed with water as he stood at the booth shouting slogans. Many Democratic Party supporters also joined the rally, along with members and lawmakers. 'I support a moderate approach to fight for democracy, and it is very sad to see the recent verbal violence,' retiree David Lee, a long-time Democratic Party supporter, said. Supporter, clerk Alice Tam, 60, said: 'It's heart-breaking to see the recent dispute among the pan-democrats. The public can see the Democratic Party has really fought for Hong Kong democracy in the past 20 years.'