Kevin Kwan, author of the book underlying the hit film “Crazy Rich Asians,” faces up to three years in jail in his native Singapore. He is accused of avoiding the country’s compulsory military service.
The film had its Singapore premiere Tuesday night, ahead of a Wednesday theatrical release. But Kwan was not among the cast or crew attending the soiree.
Singapore’s ministry of defense issued a statement on Wednesday saying Kwan had avoided national service, stayed away from the country without the required permission, and had been turned down in his attempt to renounce his Singaporean citizenship in 1994. Kwan has lived in the U.S. since about 1990.
All Singapore men are required to serve two years of national service in the army, police or civil defense after the age of 18. If convicted of draft-dodging, Kwan faces a three-year prison sentence and a fine up to $7,300 (S$10,000).
The film, directed by Jon M. Chu and starring an all-Asian cast, was released by Warner Bros. in North America last week. There it earned $34 million in its opening five days.
It has been hailed in Hollywood as a breakthrough for racial diversity. The cast is headed by Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and Ken Jeong.
The Singaporean defense ministry statement reads in full: “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. In 1994, his 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 3 years upon conviction.”
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