Cambodia’s first known dating agency Couple Service may be forced to close its recently opened doors if it is unable to produce a license from the Interior Ministry sanctioning its existence, a Phnom Penh municipal official said on Friday.
Mom Soth, director of the Municipal Department of Culture and Fine Arts, said that he had ordered Tuol Kok district officials to investigate the agency, though he admitted that he was unsure which particular license it should have applied for.
“[The dating agency] is involved with foreigners, they must have a license from the Interior Ministry,” he said. “If they don’t have the license it can be closed down.”
He added that the very idea of a Cambodian dating agency was anathema to Khmer culture and that men and woman should go through traditional channels to find a mate.
“If [Couple Service] helps find partners, it affects Khmer culture. Even in this modern age nobody would contact each other openly to marry without their parents’ knowledge,” Mom Soth said. “We have not reached that level yet.”
He conceded, however, that even Cambodian parental control over matchmaking was limited by international law. “According to international law, when they are 18-years-old, they can get married,” he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that Couple Service was not required to be licensed with the Interior Ministry, but rather it should be registered as a business with the Ministry of Commerce.
He added that although people were within their legal rights to make use of a dating service, it was not something he would endorse.
“I am still conservative,” he said.
Seng Leakhena, general manager of Couple Service, which has operated since January, initially said Friday that she did not yet have a license, but then stated that the agency was licensed through a company chairman, who is a government official.
Since January, 80 men and women have paid the $20 fee that enables them to enroll at Couple Service and so far the agency has helped six couples get together and two to marry.