Kevin Kwan has become one of the newest popular fiction authors of this day and age, and that is due to the strong success of his novel “Crazy Rich Asians” – the latter recently adapted into film – and its two sequels. Though now based on the US, Kwan had as a primary setting for the books his childhood home, the island nation of Singapore whose increasing numbers of affluent billionaire residents is one of the plot points for his books. Despite accolades being heaped on him, Kwan is aware that he is a pariah of sorts in Singapore, due to draft-dodging.
CNN reports that Kevin Kwan is a wanted man in Singapore, where he was born in the 1970s, due to his failure to register for the country’s National Service, the Singaporean program of compulsory 2-year military conscription. With the author now passing the age cap for NS, there is no recourse for him now but to face imprisonment of up to three years according to the Singapore Ministry of Defense. The ministry statement noted that despite his family moving to the US when he was 11, Kwan cannot be exempted from registration upon reaching the minimum service age in 1990.
The Defense Ministry further elaborated that Kevin Kwan failed to present a valid exit permit when their family moved out of Singapore, so the NS registration forms were sent on his overseas address. Furthermore, his 1994 application to renounce his Singaporean citizenship was rejected due to not reporting for National Service first. His skirting of obligation is listed as a crime under the Singapore Enlistment Act, which also prescribes a $10,000 atop the 3-year prison term. Knowing he would instantly be arrested upon landing on Singaporean soil, Kwan had to skip on out the premiere there of “Crazy Rich Asians”.
The National Service Act was passed in Singapore on 1967. In consideration of their small population on an island, it was deemed prudent that all able-bodied male Singaporean citizens and permanent residents starting from age 18 to receive military training and serve a period in the Police, Armed Forces, or Civil Defense Forces (emergency responders). Singapore has been very exigent in cracking down on draft dodgers like Kwan, who does not look like he will be able to even visit the country without legal repercussions on himself any time soon. His publicist has yet to give any comment on this.
“Crazy Rich Asians” from Warner Bros. Pictures and SK Global Entertainment is directed by Jon M. Chu and stars Constance Wu (“Fresh off the Boat”), Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina and Michelle Yeoh. The film premiered in Singapore Tuesday, August 21, with the Singaporean cast-members present. Moviegoers there were impressed with what they have seen.
Image courtesy of Fox News