HK is compared to US women waiting a century to vote Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was criticised by pro-democracy lawmakers for comparing Hong Kong's slow progress towards universal suffrage with the experience of the United States, where women only gained the vote 100 years after US independence. They said Hong Kong should enjoy greater democracy as allowed by the Basic Law, and it was inappropriate for the chief executive to give people the impression that it could take decades to introduce full democracy. Making the remarks to Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper during his visit to North America, Mr Tsang said it took time to develop democracy after more than 140 years of British colonial rule. The chief executive said it took more than 100 years after the US declared independence for women to receive the right to vote. 'We do not believe in a big bang. We believe in incremental stages to find a solution,' he said. Barrister and lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said American society was primitive at that time and slavery was a divisive issue in the democratic nation for decades. 'I hope Mr Tsang is not talking about Hong Kong attaining universal suffrage in 100 years' time,' he said. Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said: 'He alone has to bear the consequences if foreigners think he is stupid for making these comments.' Mr Tsang also said everything involving constitutional reform must get approval from Beijing. 'We are not a sovereign state. We are not masters of our fate,' he said. The career bureaucrat, who has a knighthood, said that despite the hurdles, the democratic process was becoming more liberal following the handover of Hong Kong to China. 'We now have our own arrangements ... and we have to build that into what is called universal suffrage,' he said. The march to democracy was too slow for some and too quick for others, he added, and it was unfair to blame Hong Kong leaders for not bringing in democracy immediately after British rule. 'But we are moving at our own speed and we are trying to find a consensus in Hong Kong.' Mr Tsang also dismissed suggestions that China was a dictatorship, and rebutted the charge that the People's Liberation Army's presence in the city was a concern. 'Every weekend there were brawls in the bars with the British soldiers. We have had not one single incident involving Chinese soldiers, not even traffic tickets ... With the British, it was every week.'