Mr Mark Lin of Vietnam Brides International Matchmaker took out advertisements in the Chinese newspapers on Wednesday, offering the discount on the grounds that his business has been hit by the global financial crisis. Three Vietnamese women have been at his Orchard Plaza office in the last two months, waiting for prospective husbands.

Mr Lin is charging $4,000 as his matchmaking fee for each - half the fee he usually charges for flying them in and feeding and housing them. Over 20 men have inquired about the women this month, but he has yet to make a match.

In better times, his business was behind up to eight weddings a month.

Beer promoter Bui Thi Tuoi, 21, has been waiting for a match since the end of August. She nearly got hitched this month: A businessman in his 50s picked her and paid Mr Lin a $2,000 deposit, but he is now having second thoughts after losing money in the financial crisis.

'He says it's okay if he loses the deposit,' said Mr Lin.

Miss Tuoi seems fine about the change of heart, but is still set on getting a Singaporean husband. 'My friend who married a Singaporean says Singaporeans treat their wives well and life here is good,' she says.

Wedding bells are not pealing at other matchmaking businesses either.

Life Partner Matchmaker's Janson Ong says business is so slow he has stopped flying in Vietnamese women; men keen on them now go on his three- to five-day matchmaking tours to Vietnam instead.

Over at First Overseas International Matchmaker, boss Francis Toh said: 'People say their savings have been wiped out by the Lehman Brothers collapse. They aren't in the mood for marriage.'

The Straits Times (.sg) - October 24, 2008