Members of the Lao National Assembly have called for stricter screening of marriages between Lao nationals and foreigners before approval, arguing that those marriages are not, in many cases, purely based on love.
The call follows moves by the Lao government to draft measures to strengthen its relation and cooperation with Lao expatriates with the aim to enlist their contributions in the development of the country. The measures have been submitted to the National Assembly and are now pending approval.
One key measure, which Lao officials hope will help attract more overseas Laotians to return home, will not only extend their stay up to 9 months on a single entry visa but will also make it easier for them to receive approval to marry Lao nationals. That has raised concern among some Lao deputies who have called for stricter screening and investigation of marriages between Lao women and overseas Lao men as they do not think that all marriages between these people derive from real love while there are people who make money out of promoting and arranging such marriages, as an unidentified National Assembly member commented:
"There are companies who do businesses as matchmakers and marriage brokers. In some cases, you see some really young Lao women - and maybe some older ones but no more than 28 years-old, marrying a Lao man from overseas in his 60s or 70s. How can you believe that that is true love? So we need to really investigate and check out their backgrounds before approving because such marriages hurt Lao women' honor and dignity."
Also included in this new policy are provisions that aim to accommodate other needs of Lao expatriates who return home, such as granting the rights to use and own land, buildings, and other types of properties to those who invest more than US$ 500,000 in Laos.
In December 2009, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh received, at his new office next to the Victory Monument in Vientiane, a group of Lao expatriates from the U.S., Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and Japan, who traveled to Vientiane to attend the 25th SEA Games that took place December 9-18, 2009. During the meeting, the Prime Minister emphasized that the Lao government does not consider past conflicts to be the basis of rules for development for a better future of the country. Instead, his government wants to see Lao people from all walks of life, both inside and outside of the country, join hands and contribute their knowledge and utmost ability to develop the motherland.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.