6.3.3 Decline in Settlement Activities

By and large, economically cultivable land in Asia is already under cultivation. A few exceptions are limited to Malaysia , Laos , Indonesia and Thailand which undertook large-scale settlement or resettlement activities to move people from densely settled areas to the frontier. In addition to spontaneous settlement, Malaysia and Indonesia had more organized activities that were performed by a state agency, while, in Thailand , the initiative rested more with the individual. However, even in these countries, the magnitude of settlement activities is ever decreasing for a number of reasons. First of all, the land reserves are almost exhausted. In recent years, some disadvantageous ecological side-effects have been discoved which are mostly the consequence of mistakes made during the settlement process. Above all, settlement projects prove to be very expensive. The amount of money spent to settle families is not proportional to government support for other people. If one tries to reduce the costs of settlement, the percentage of failures increases much. Settlement is an activity which should be performed to the very end or not undertaken at all.

When settlement activities still go on, they are usually incorporated in regional development schemes foreseeing the settlement of skilled workers in areas which are planned for development. In such cases, the settlers are the people that are needed to implement development in order to make other investments such as roads, schools, etc. worthwhile. In contrast, this infrastructure provide to these people the basis for a satisfactory life.