Tang said there is no room to further reduce the project’s budget.

Union chairwoman Choy said staff were disappointed that Tang did not oppose the bureau’s decision to withdraw the request for HK$5.3 billion funding, which was trimmed from its original proposal for HK$6.1 billion, and which lawmakers rejected.

She said Tang told the staff that he did not oppose the decision as there was nothing much he could do.

Public Works Subcommittee member Christopher Chung Shu-kun, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he still has to decide whether to vote for the modified proposal. “I will see if they have made any modification,” he said.

Chung earlier said the HK$5.3 billion project was still too expensive.

Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing said: “We have discussed it many times. It is meaningless to resubmit the same proposal.” Veteran commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said it is possible Tang’s U-turn will briefly deflect the political pressure within the station. “After all, it is [commerce secretary] Gregory So Kam-leung who will decide whether to resubmit the proposal.”

A bureau spokesman said the proposal was withdrawn as it would be rejected. Tang previously denied accusations he betrayed RTHK’s interest in agreeing to withdraw the request.