(Updates with Felda official statement, background)
KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 (Reuters) - The chairman of Malaysia’s state palm oil plantation agency, the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), has resigned, an agency spokesman said on Monday, confirming earlier reports.
The move follows shock election results in which the coalition that has ruled the country for six decades was defeated.
“Effective today I resign as the chairman of Felda. My resignation letter has been sent to Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia,” Shahrir Samad said in a statement released on Monday evening.
“Seeing as I was elected as Felda chairman by the previous government, it is only fair for me to resign in an institution led by a new government.”
Shahrir, a former federal minister, was appointed as Felda’s chairman in January 2017.
Malaysia’s palm oil settlers, oil palm farmers working for Felda, have been grappling with rising costs of living and high debt levels due to insufficient incomes.
Both Mahathir’s alliance and the coalition led by ousted prime minister Najib Razak campaigned vigorously in Felda settlements leading up to the polls held last week, with both parties promising to improve living conditions and erase debts.
Felda settlers form the majority of voters in at least 54 of the 222 seats in the national parliament, and have been pivotal in the former ruling coalition winning every election since Malaysia’s independence in 1957. (Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Kim Coghill)