Move over, Vietnam brides. Here come the Myanmar maidens.
Aged between 20 and 35, they are ethnic Chinese who can speak Mandarin and cook Chinese meals.
So they would find it easier to adapt to life in Singapore, said Mr Mark Lin of Vietnam Brides International, who’s offering his customers a wider choice of brides.
Mr Lin, who had specialised in Vietnam brides since 2003, said: ‘I have to teach Vietnamese girls Mandarin if they don’t speak it. But these Myanmar women are already fluent in the language.’
He said the women are keen to marry Singaporean men because they want better lives outside Myanmar, which has been under military rule since 1988.
While agencies offering Vietnamese brides charge between $6,000 and $8,000, Mr Lin charges $8,800 for Myanmar brides.
Mr Lin saw a business opportunity after a Taiwanese friend asked him to obtain solemnisation dates and visas for three Taiwanese men to solemnise their marriages to Myanmar women here.
‘As Myanmar doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Myanmar nationals can’t get married there and vice versa,’ he said.
‘So the couples have to marry in another country and return to Taiwan as husband and wife.’
The New Paper on Sunday met the three Myanmar women – Cho Mi Than, 30, Yin Mya, 35, and Shauk Chin, 30, at Mr Lin’s Orchard Plaza office.
They met their Taiwanese fiances last year when the men were on holiday in Myanmar.
Miss Shauk Chin said: ‘We’ve been keeping in touch over the phone after he returned to Taipei. I’m so glad we can legalise our relationship at last.’
The Registry of Marriages here allows foreigners to solemnise their unions if at least one of the two parties has stayed in Singapore for at least 15 days.
Mr Lin is now arranging to bring two Myanmar women to Singapore as soon as their visas and passports are ready.
He said: ‘I charge more for Myanmar brides as there’s more paperwork involved in bringing them here. They need visas while Vietnamese girls don’t.’
Other agencies specialising in Vietnamese brides say they are not worried about the competition.
Mr Janson Ong of Life Partner Matchmaker, said: ‘We’ve been doing well with Vietnamese girls. What we have to do is to provide good wives.
‘I won’t consider bringing in brides from Myanmar as the political situation there is still unstable.’
Other agents said their business has slowed with the economy.
Mayle Marriage Agency, which has Vietnamese and Chinese Indonesian brides, said it had only one successful match last month.
Mayle’s owner, Mr Simon Sim, said: ‘Men are afraid of making a commitment if their jobs are insecure. You need money to start a family, right?’