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And it is not for the food. She is here to find a husband. She has about a month left before her visa expires.

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'you're not here to buy, you're here to marry': s'porean who founded vietnamese bride agency

He started a Vietnamese bride agency after his own experience looking for a partner. Matthias Ang April 04,AM. It was a decision that was largely influenced by his own experience of marrying a Vietnamese woman through a marriage agent inin a process that he found to be less-than-ideal. Opening up about his experience, Koh shared how he had to navigate twists and turns before finally marrying his current wife, who is from Vietnam. He subsequently established an agency hoping to bring together Singaporean men and Vietnamese women who are serious about marriage.

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He hopes to do so in a way that is fair to potential Vietnamese brides. It was on Easter Sunday, April 20,that his late wife, Laura Lau, suffered a fatal fall while inspecting the renovations of their house in Pasir Ris. When I rushed up, I saw her trying to struggle to get up. I asked her, 'What happened to you?

In the wake of his wife's passing, Koh fell into depression, becoming a "totally different person" from his usual chatty, people-oriented self. Now, I kept myself in the cubicle.

I did not dare to see anyone. He eventually sought treatment from two psychiatrists and a psychologist, and received a long leave of medical absence. But he was still unable to leave the house. Whenever he wanted to go for his morning walk, he added, he would break down and cry, unable to control himself. Eventually, Koh's two children, his daughter, 23, and son, 27, at that time, were worried about him being alone at home, given that they were not with him, and he only had their helper and his mother their grandmother with severe dementia for company.

Koh told us that it was highly unlikely someone of his age to be able to find a partner in Singapore. Nobody will want to marry me.

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I mean I did not try, but rather, the assumption is that at this age, how to go and find another person? This led to Koh's own decision to find a bride from Vietnam, a decision that his children also supported. And I saw many Vietnamese there. The way they present themselves, their behaviour, left an impression on me. Also, I recalled many years ago, I read somewhere in the newspapers, that Singaporeans are marrying Vietnamese wives. So I said, why don't I try that?

The girls had apparently just arrived in Singapore, with Koh guessing that the agent had only just picked them up at the airport. I said, these are not the ones that I want, I'm not looking for all these," he said with a chuckle.

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I think age is also important — I asked for someone who's above But he told me don't have, the oldest is probably 30 years old. Vietnamese marry very young. If they are 40, they will not consider getting married already. Koh decided to choose a woman from one of the website's photographs, and go to Vietnam. But there was very little information accompanying the photo however, as only a fake name and the woman's age was provided.

He found himself in for another surprise however, when he met the woman, who was waiting for both of them at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City with her sister. He The agent himself was also shocked because he had never met the girl, had never communicated with the girl. It Vietnam brides singapore somebody who had so-called 'supplied' him with the girl and he simply put it up on his website. In any case, the woman and her sister accompanied and Koh and his agent to the hotel, where Koh paid for the accommodation of the two women by himself — a decision that he came to seeing as they were from a province outside the city and could not possibly return right away.

Afterwards, Koh and the agent went to lunch with the woman, whereupon two more women, called from other provinces, came to them.

So now I have three ladies having lunch with me, everyone trying to feed me, bringing food to my bowl. So I felt a bit uncomfortable. He decided to give one of them a chance, and took her out to coffee the next day.

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That was when he found out that she spoke very little English. At that time, Koh did not how to use apps such as Google translate. And my agent was not with me. He left me with her," Koh added. More importantly, Koh added, she was finishing her architectural degree, which she wanted to give up for marriage. However, Koh refused to let her do so on the grounds that attaining her degree was the dream of her father. A photo of his future wife from his agent was the only information he ever received about her.

His agent's reaction towards the rejection of the girl was, "Never mind, just change, get another one, you don't have to feel bad about it. This brought up Koh's own observation that his agent was "very business-minded" and did not take into the welfare of the girl.

Koh then received another photo from his agent via WhatsApp, this time of the woman who would become his future wife. The photo was also the only piece of information that he ever received from the agent about her, with a complete absence of information on her family. I knew nothing, whether her parents were alive or not, how many brothers and sisters she hadwhat are they doing, which province they are from — all this information was not there.

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As for the meeting with the woman, his agent added that a contact of his would be waiting for him over in Ho Chi Minh to arrange the event and did not accompany him for the journey. Koh's future wife, Le Thi Ngoc Thao, was not the only woman he was introduced to on the trip however. Prior to the meeting with her, another woman was brought to the hotel by his agent's contact on the first day of their arrival in Vietnam. In Vietnam brides singapore, the contact also tried to pretend that she could not find the meeting location that they had agreed upon with Koh's future wife, only to eventually relent at the insistence of his daughter.

By the time they finally reached Coffee Bean, "my wife was about to leave," Koh said. Photo by Matthias Ang. Koh subsequently found out during the meeting that Le, who was 30 years old, was also fluent in Mandarin, as a result of her experience from being a supervisor at a Taiwanese garment factory.

He was also bolstered by the sentiments of his daughter, who added that he needed someone who could understand him. For Le's part, the deciding factor was the fact that he had brought his daughter along to the meeting, and the fact that he was also a teacher.

Why go for a vietnamese bride?

You brought your daughter who is pretty old already. So I know you are very serious. Afterwards, Koh brought Le over to Singapore to stay for a week so that she could meet the rest of his family and become more familiar with Singapore. Koh clarified that this was not done immediately however, as he had to first undergo a lengthy process in submitting a letter to ICA, along with his own medical report, bank statement, salary slip, income tax and CPF, in order to demonstrate that she was not entering into the vice trade.

The subsequent three trips to Vietnam largely revolved around meeting her family, wedding preparations, and the wedding ceremony itself which happened on September 6, Photo courtesy of Eric Koh. The newlyweds then flew back the next day, on September 7, and solemnised their marriage two days afterwards in his home, which meant that Le could apply for her Long-Term Visit Pass. She then became a Permanent Residence PR in Throughout the entire process, Koh highlighted that his agent had only been effectively involved in his initial flight to Vietnam.

The rest of it all, I did it on my own, including the marriage ceremony which my daughter and I went over for. We did not understand Vietnamese, whatever they said, we just followed. The experience eventually spurred Koh to set up his own Vietnamese marriage agency in light of what he felt was the agent's inadequacy in providing both parties crucial information about each other.

But this was precisely what he was hoping to change.

This was following his retirement as a teacher, "with the blessing of my church friend, who helped me to register the company," and with the agency's website being established with the help of his daughter's husband. His main source for potential brides is an anonymous partner, with contacts in "almost every province" of Vietnam. This partner, Koh added, is aware of the kind of profiles he is searching for. Koh also observed that many Vietnamese women had been married to Singaporean men through the recommendations of either their own friends or the men's.

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But this means there is no screening in place for the men who may or may not necessarily have the means to support the woman with his income, or might still be living with his extended family which, according to him, is an invitation for heightened scrutiny and tension. For his part, Koh said that he has instituted a screening process for male clients. Requirements that his clients must meet are:.

This includes information such as their payslip, income tax, CPF statement, and whether they live alone or with their family.