'Crazy Rich Asians' author wanted in Singapore for skipping national service

The author of the hit novel "Crazy Rich Asians" is wanted in his birth country of Singapore for failing to r...

Posted: Aug 22, 2018 1:33 PM
Updated: Aug 22, 2018 1:33 PM

The author of the hit novel "Crazy Rich Asians" is wanted in his birth country of Singapore for failing to register for national service, according to the country's Ministry of Defense.

Kevin Kwan, whose book inspired the breakout movie of the same name, could face up to three years imprisonment for failing to register for the service.

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"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," the Ministry statement, emailed to CNN, states.

"In 1994, his application and subsequent appeal to renounce his Singapore citizenship without serving NS were rejected. Mr Kwan has committed offenses under the Enlistment Act, and is liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years upon conviction."

Despite widespread interest in the film, much of which is set in the city state, Kwan didn't make an appearance at a red carpet event for the movie in Singapore, unlike the majority of the Singaporean members of the cast.

Kwan's publicist has not yet responded to a CNN request for comment.

All male Singapore citizens and second-generation permanent residents must complete the service in one of Singapore's uniformed branches -- the Singapore Armed Forces, Civil Defense Force or police -- unless given an exemption. NS takes place at age 18.

According to Singapore's Straits Times, Kwan's family moved to Texas when he was 11, but as his appeal to renounce his Singaporean citizenship without completing NS was rejected, he could still find himself in legal jeopardy should he return to the country.

The Singaporean government has clamped down on defaulters since redefining the sentencing framework in 2017. In August, the Defense Ministry denied footballer Ben Davies a deferment to play football for English professional team Fulham.

At the time, Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said that the need for a robust defense of the country trumped "personal pursuits" and "mandates that each liable male performs his NS when required," the Times reports.

Groundbreaking work

The big-screen version of Kwan's book -- the first Hollywood movie with an all-Asian cast since Disney made "The Joy Luck Club" in 1993 -- stars Constance Wu of ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat" as Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American economics professor who follows her longtime boyfriend, Singaporean Nick Young, played by newcomer Henry Golding, to his homeland to attend his best friend's wedding and meet his family.

She discovers he is not only the scion of one of the country's wealthiest families, but also one of Singapore's most sought-after bachelors. With a target on her back, she has to fend off catty socialites and hold her own against Nick's domineering mother (Michelle Yeoh) while remaining true to herself.

Shot almost entirely in Singapore, plot of the book and film make good use of Kwan's homeland -- coming across as "a love letter to the food, culture and beauty of this area," according to the film's producer, Brad Simpson.

Produced with the assistance of the Singapore Film Commission and the Singapore Tourism Board, state-owned media channels have been promoting the film relentlessly.

It opened in Singapore Tuesday to packed audiences, who, for the most part loved what they saw. Insiders say the ultra-exclusive world featured in both book and movie is as real as the Lion City's stunning scenery.

Ranked one of the world's richest countries, Singapore is believed to have the world's fastest growing number of billionaires.

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