KEVIN KWAN may have brought Hollywood glamour to Singapore for his novel-turned-blockbuster hit “Crazy Rich Asians” but the island state’s government won’t be rolling out the red carpet should he return there one day.
This is because the 67-year-old author, although celebrated abroad, is a wanted man back home.
Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said Kwan, who moved to the US when he was 11, skipped National Service (NS) decades ago and as he remains a Singaporean citizen, faces a three-year jail term and a US$7,300 fine for the offence, Straits Times reported.
“Mr Kevin Kwan failed to register for NS in 1990, despite notices and letters sent to his overseas address,” the ministry said on Tuesday.
“He also stayed overseas without a valid exit permit. Mr Kwan is therefore wanted for defaulting on his NS obligations.”
Kwan was recently thrown into the international spotlight following the release of the movie adaptation of his bestseller, which details the opulent lifestyles of Singapore’s super-rich.
The move that was released in the United States last week premiered in Singapore on Tuesday, and has been hailed as a watershed for Asian representation in Hollywood due to its all-Asian cast, according to the AFP.
Kwan, also credited as an executive producer of the film, attended the US premiere but was conspicuously missing from Tuesday’s red carpet event at Capitol Theatre.
For decades, Singapore has set a two-year mandatory requirement for its male citizens to undergo NS where they could serve either in the military, police or civil defence force.
Although Kwan tried to renounce his citizenship in 1994, the government rejected his application for failure to fulfil his NS obligation.
Set against the backdrop of Singapore, the plot of “Crazy Rich Asians” revolves around American-born Chinese economics professor Rachel Chu, played by Constance Wu, who meets her boyfriend’s (Henry Golding) wealthy and tradition-bound family of Chinese descent.
The movie is the first Hollywood film centred around an all-Asian cast in 25 years with the last being the 1993 film Joy Luck Club directed by Wayne Wang.
Despite praises in the US, the movie has been the subject of wide criticism in Singapore and around the region for its ethnocentrism in merely focussing on ethnic-Chinese characters.