The South China Morning Post and Hong Kong’s The Standard reported that Roy Tang Yun-kwong, Radio Television Hong Kong’s (RTHK) director of broadcasting, has been criticised for allowing the government to withdraw a HK$5.3 billion funding request for a new headquarters, after it became clear that the Beijing loyalists in the Legislative Council, whose votes were needed, would oppose it.

RTHK Programme Staff Union chairwoman Choy Yuk-ling said had the director been someone promoted “from within” RTHK he would have been more ready to speak for the station than Tang, who was previously an administrative officer.

Tang, a veteran civil servant who was appointed to head RTHK in 2011, brushed off suggestions the administration was trying to “deplete” RTHK – often accused of being too critical of the government – by delaying its expansion, for which the new building was needed.

“I do not believe the government wants the project to fall away,” he said.

“The secretary [for commerce and economic development Gregory So Kam-leung] actually led a very forceful lobbying exercise, all of which I personally attended.”

Speaking after RTHK’s Lunar New Year reception, Tang said it was completely speculative to say that the government was “happy” to withdraw the plan. He said the government had supported the public broadcaster by increasing its resources 25 percent in the past three years.

The decision by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to re-tender the project will lead to a delay of at least two years.

However, after a February 6 meeting with the RTHK Programme Staff Union, Tang reversed his course, saying he will ask the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to resubmit the funding request for RTHK’s new Broadcasting House. Tang said staff would like the bureau to resubmit the proposal, rejected earlier by the Public Works Subcommittee.

“Our colleagues believe that even if the proposal will be rejected again, it should be submitted to Legco for further discussion, to reflect RTHK staff’s efforts and to leave historical records.”