Tuesday night was the Crazy Rich Asians premiere in Singapore, but the author of the book that the movie is based on was notably absent from the huge party to celebrate his work. Kevin Kwan, the author of the bestseller is wanted in Singapore and faces time in jail and a fine for avoiding the country’s obligatory military service.
Singapore’s Ministry of Defense issued a statement about Kwan’s current status as it pertains to dodging the military draft.
“Mr. Kevin Kwan failed to register for National Service (NS) in 1990, despite notices and letters sent to his overseas address. He also stayed overseas without a valid exit permit. Mr. Kwan is therefore wanted for defaulting on his NS obligations. In 1994, his application and subsequent appeal to renounce his Singapore citizenship without serving NS were rejected. Mr. Kwan has committed offences under the Enlistment Act, and is liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years upon conviction.”
PageSix says all Singapore men must do their two years of service, but if Kwan returned to the country to celebrate his success, he should expect to be arrested. Crazy Rich Asians has had outstanding box office success in all of its openings, particularly as an All-Asian cast.
The New York Times explains that author Kevin Kwan left Singapore at age 11, moving to Houston, Texas, and though he desired to renounce his citizenship, the government of Singapore does not allow men to do this without fulfilling their military obligation. Some biographies indicate that Kwan became an American citizen at 18, but the government of Singapore indicates that they have not relinquished their claim on him.
Kwan’s 2013 book is the story of a Chinese-American woman (played expertly by Constance Wu) who travels to Singapore for a wedding and to meet her boyfriend’s family, who are Crazy Rich Asians.
Though Kwan isn’t commenting on his absence from the Singapore premiere or his current difficulties with the Singapore government, the Defense Ministry also adds that Kwan did not apply for an exit visa, for which he was required to post a bond of a $55,000 equivalent to ensure his return,
Kevin Kwan isn’t the only prominent Singaporean citizen to run into an issue with the country’s national conscription. Just last month, 17-year-old soccer star Benjamin Davis was denied a deferment for his military service in order to sign a contract with English Premier League club Fulham.