Thach Singsasoseakk is lucky that Cambodia’s ban on polygamy in 2006 was not retroactive, and perhaps so are his nine wives, each of whom has a specific function in the family that some equate to ministries in a government.
The 64-year-old drama teacher told the Post that one of his wives had left for America about two years ago but she continued to support the family, which includes 25 children: 13 male and 12 female.
“I did have nine wives and they lived together, but now there are only eight because my first wife went to America more than two years ago,” he explained. “We still have a good relationship and she still provides us with some money as usual,” the Phnom Penh resident said.
He denied speculation that he used black magic love skills to woo and keep his wives, saying that besides fortune telling and drama he had no secret talents: just the ability to manage his wives so that they could live together without jealousy or arguments.
“My first wife was the one who I loved and I told my parents I wanted to get engaged to her and marry,” he said, adding that the others were the result of fortune. “The second till the ninth wives were given to me by their parents and I asked each one if they agreed before I accepted.”
The household functions due to a strict division of labour, he said.
His second wife took over the role of general manager after his first wife went Stateside.
Wife number three is the homemaker (she also makes clothing), the fourth is in charge of health, the fifth is the veterinarian, while the sixth oversees the fish pond and home garden.
Wives seven, eight and nine have yet to be assigned roles because they are all only about 20 years old and mainly lounge around, he said.
Thach Singsoseakk is also proud of his success in Khmer drama, with his group Lkhon Bassac receiving recognition from Prime Minister Hun Sen last year.
Besides winning a prize, Hun Sen also gave him cash after hearing that he had many wives but managed to ensure they lived together happily, he said.
One of his wives, who asked not to be named, said her parents told her it was her karma to be one of many wives. She said the women love each other like sisters, and that harmony is achieved by each knowing the other’s position in the household.
Wife number two provided insight into how the household functions. If, for example, any of the children are hungry it is up to only one of the wive’s to feed them.
Her husband also takes her along with him for public events, she said, leaving his younger wives at home.
It’s a sign of respect, she says.