Make counselling a must for inter-ethnic couples

In the light of the sharp jump in annulments among inter-ethnic couples here ("Break-ups soon after marriage at 20-year high"; Aug 16), the Registry of Marriages (ROM) should make such couples go through counselling before they are allowed to solemnise their marriages.

The agency should also make it harder for the couples to get their marriages annulled.

It was reported that many such unions involved Vietnamese women who were led to believe that their Singaporean husbands would give them a good life, but the men turned out to be poor. Such misconceptions need to be addressed via counselling by the ROM. These women need to know that marrying a Singaporean is not a bed of roses nor the ticket to a good life.

The ROM should mandate a "cooling-off" period to allow such couples time to reconsider their decisions.

This is all the more necessary because the Singaporean men seeking Vietnamese brides tend to be over the age of 40, and some have chronic health problems, and they may see a younger bride as a potential caregiver or maid, rather than a spouse.

The authorities should also regulate the lucrative marriage broking business in Singapore. Many such brokers offer unbelievable sweeteners to entice the men to sign up - with free return air tickets to Vietnam, free wedding bouquets, wedding photographers, and even a "warranty" for a few months, only to disappear or claim ignorance when matrimonial problems arise after they have collected a large sum of brokerage fees.

The Media Development Authority should look into regulating the numerous marriage brokers' websites out to profit from naive individuals looking for love.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'Make counselling a must for inter-ethnic couples'. Print Edition | Subscribe