The author of the novel "Crazy Rich Asians," on which the current hit film of the same name is based, has found success in the United States. In his home country of Singapore, however, he's a wanted man.
Kevin Kwan skipped a mandatory two-year conscription in the Singapore armed forces, making him technically a criminal in his homeland, according to The Washington Post.
Service in the country's armed forces is compulsory for all Singaporean men and permanent residents above the age of 18.
Singapore’s Ministry of Defense said on Aug. 23 that Kwan had “failed to register for National Service in 1990, despite notices and letters sent to his overseas address," according to The Washington Post.
Kwan had left Singapore at the age of 11, according to the Straits Times, an English-language newspaper in Singapore. He had attempted to renounce his citizenship in 1994, but his request was denied.
Should Kwan return to Singapore, he potentially faces fines or imprisonment for up to three years.
Kwan had been conspicuously missing at the Singapore debut of the "Crazy Rich Asians" film.
Kwan has not offered a comment on the issue.
Kwan is not the only high-profile person caught up in the conscription controversy. Ben Davis, a 17-year-old Singaporean soccer player who signed a two-year contract with English Premier League club Fulham F.C., had his request for deferment of services denied by the Singapore government. They argued that the deferment would only serve his own career and would not benefit government.
Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen defended the decision.
“There has been no indication, commitment or plans as to how Mr. Ben Davis would help football stands in Singapore, if deferred,” he said in Parliament this month, according to The Washington Post. “To grant deferment to Mr. Ben Davis to pursue his personal development and professional career would be unfair to the many others who have served their [national service] dutifully as required, and not at a time of their choosing.”
In 2017, Singapore toughened punishments for those who dodged the conscription and jailed 13 individuals, according to The Washington Post.
Donald Low, a Singaporean economist and associate partner at Centennial Asia Advisors, criticized the country's conscription policies.
“The inflexibility is built in and will only get worse” as more cases like Davis’ and Kwan’s arise, Low said to The Washington Post. “It is not tenable, and it is not going to satisfy people.”
[Photo: Kevin Kwan by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images]