Skip to navigationSkip to content

The author of “Crazy Rich Asians” is a wanted man in Singapore

Author Kevin Kwan (R) and cast members Henry Golding and Constance Wu pose at the premiere for "Crazy Rich Asians" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 7, 2018.
Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
An unfulfilled duty.
By Alice Truong
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Kevin Kwan, whose book Crazy Rich Asians is now a Hollywood blockbuster, is wanted in Singapore for failing to register for the city-state’s national service and fulfill his two-year military service.

That oversight makes him liable to a fine of up to S$10,000 (US$7,300) or prison of up to three years, reports the Straits Times.

“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,” Singapore’s defense ministry told the newspaper. A representative for Kwan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ministry added that Kwan, who moved to the US when he was 11 and is now in his mid-40s, had applied to renounce his Singaporean citizenship without serving, but his application and subsequent appeal were rejected in 1994.

All male Singaporean citizens and second-generation permanent residents are required to serve in the armed forces, police force, or civil defense force. Singapore has relied on conscription since 1967 to meet its security needs, but whether it’s still necessary today remains controversial. It hasn’t been in a state of war since it achieved independence in 1965, and some argue that Singaporean men remain at a disadvantage in the workplace compared with their female peers because of their two-year obligation.

It seems unlikely that Singapore, a highly regulated society known for its harsh laws, would cut Kwan any slack, even as it actively uses the movie to lure high-end tourists. In August, defense minister Ng Eng Hen stressed that Singapore’s Enlistment Act is blind to “personal convenience and considerations” when commenting on Benjamin Davis, who requested to defer his service to join the English Premier League.

📬 A periodic dispatch from the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in NYC.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.