Perhaps for the first time since the Khmer Rouge held mass weddings intended to ensure a new generation of workers and erode family loyalty, a joint wedding of military officers was held last week, albeit for entirely different reasons.
High-ranking commanders in Koh Kong province’s Pumin town organised the wedding of three male and three female officers who could not afford to hold family weddings.
Brigadier General Yun Min, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander in Koh Kong province, said long-time military men decided to help out because individual ceremonies were financially out of reach.
“We held the group wedding party because they are living in the same house and are in love with each other; therefore, we played the host role on behalf of the parents,” he said.
Min added that the costs of the ceremony were shared with his commander and a subcommander, and that the gesture was intended to help counter stereotypes of female soldiers.
“We took this opportunity to give credit to our female soldiers, because our society always looks negatively towards female soldiers, especially because of the image of women as sex workers,” he said.
“We are their commanders, and we were like their parents, therefore there is no problem in our culture as we did a good deed for them.”
Pin Sok Thida, a 20-year-old member of the RCAF who was one of the young brides, told the Post by phone yesterday that she was overjoyed at being able to have a wedding party.
“As my parents are very poor, I could not have been married without the support of my commander,” she said.
Each couple, Min said, received a $2,000 dowry.
Analyst Chea Vannath said he saw promise in the idea and believed that joint weddings should be encouraged.
“The most important thing is that they weren’t forced and were loyal to each other,” she said. “The majority of Cambodians are poor and when they find real love, they should be able to hold group weddings to cut down on the costs.”