'Crazy Rich Asians' author Kevin Kwan wanted in Singapore for defaulting on national service

Author Kevin Kwan poses at the premiere for “Crazy Rich Asians” in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Author Kevin Kwan poses at the premiere for “Crazy Rich Asians” in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Kevin Kwan, the Singapore-born author of the best-selling book Crazy Rich Asians that has also turned into a hit movie, is a wanted man in the city-state for defaulting on his national service (NS) obligations, The Straits Times reported on Wednesday (22 August), citing the Ministry of Defence.

When contacted by Yahoo News Singapore, Mindef confirmed its statement to ST wherein it said that Kwan failed to register for national service in 1990 despite repeated notices to his overseas address, and that he stayed abroad without a valid exit permit.

“Mr Kwan is therefore wanted for defaulting on his NS obligations,” Mindef said.

The ministry also added that Kwan’s 1994 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 three years upon conviction,” said Mindef.

Kwan was absent from the Singapore premiere of Crazy Rich Asians on Tuesday (21 August). The film adaptation of his book follows Chinese-American Rachel Chu, played by Constance Wu, as she travels with her boyfriend Nick Young, portrayed by Henry Golding, to Singapore and discovers his family is ultra-wealthy.

The grandson of Singapore’s first western-trained ophthalmologist, the 44-year-old Kwan was born in Singapore and lived in his family’s home in Bukit Timah before moving to Houston, Texas in the United States with his parents and two older brothers. In an interview with ST last year, he has said he himself is not a crazy rich Asian but that he comes from a well-connected family.

The issue of national service became a hot topic in Singapore last month after teenage footballer and Fulham FC signee Benjamin Davis’ request for deferment from national service was reportedly rejected by Mindef.

The issue gained further attention when Davis’ father told the media that his son might contemplate switching nationalities if the deferment is ultimately not granted. In response, Mindef said the youth’s actions were out to “further his own professional career, not national interest”.

All male Singaporean citizens and second-generation permanent residents are required to undergo national service for two years.

Related Singapore stories:

Rich but far from crazy – Singapore’s uber-wealthy

Singapore banks on Crazy Rich Asians to draw tourists

Ben Davis is no Joseph Schooling