Employer advocate Panudianan Kuhn, whose reported view that poverty-stricken Bali farmers should be moved to Kalimantan where there was ample land available cheaply caused a furore last month, now says he did not mean to imply they should be forced to go.
Kuhn, chairman of the Bali branch of APINDO, the Indonesian Employers Association, says it was only a suggestion and aimed at farmers who had no land of their own and wished to get a better life in a new area.
“If farmers have no land and cannot work, why not encourage them to consider transmigration to Borneo under government programmes?” he said.
“But there is no suggestion this should be an enforced measure.”
Kuhn said land for resettlement was plentiful in all three Kalimantan provinces, some of it was free and other holdings were available for only Rp2 million (US$226) a hectare.
“In Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan most of the people are immigrants,” he said. “Local residents only make up 30 to 40 percent of the population.”
Kuhn added that there was no suggestion that agriculture would cease in Bali because of development and underlined that it was not only a complement to tourism on the island.
“But farmers could also work with the tourism sector, each supporting the other, and develop very interesting farm tourism packages in Bali,” he said.