Singapore men are required by law to serve two years of national service in the army, police or civil defense after turning 18-years old. Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan now faces up to three years in jail for dodging the country’s compulsory draft. Crazy Rich Asians just hit theaters and has been a huge success with an all-Asian cast. The film earned $34 million in just five days in North America. Since then, the movie has been slowly rolling out to international theaters, including the Singapore premiere earlier this week.
While Kevin Kwan is from Singapore, he was not present for the premiere of Crazy Rich Asians. Singapore’s ministry of defense recently announced that Kwan had avoided their national service. In addition, the ministry of defense states that Kwan has stayed away from the country without the official permission needed. The author has lived in the United States since 1990 and if convicted, Kwan will be ordered to pay up to $10,000 and serve up to three years in prison.
Kevin Kwan, who is now 44-years old, left Singapore when he was 11 and moved with his family to Houston, Texas. Kwan has reportedly been a United States citizen since he was 18, but Singapore’s ministry of defense has denied his application to renounce his citizenship multiple times. Kwan has criticized Singapore many times over the years, stating that the country’s citizens, “face severe restrictions on their basic rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.” The new investigation has raised questions about the author’s U.S. citizenship, since it has not been officially confirmed that Kwan is a citizen after the Singapore defense ministry announced that they had blocked his requests to renounce his citizenship.
Kevin Kwan wrote Crazy Rich Asians in 2013 with the intention to “introduce a contemporary Asia to a North American audience.” The novel quickly became a bestseller and spawned two sequels, China Rich Girlfriend in 2015 and Rich People Problems in 2017. The number one romantic comedy-drama was directed by Jon M. Chu from a screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim. The film is notable for being the first film from a major Hollywood studio to feature an all-Asian cast since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club.
Kevin Kwan has yet to speak out publicly about the Singapore ministry of defense’s investigation as of this writing. For now, he’s certainly enjoying the success of watching Crazy Rich Asians take the number one spot at the box office, knocking Jason Statham’s The Meg to the number two position. Kwan definitely won’t be heading back to Singapore any time soon, especially now that he faces up to three years in prison for alleged draft dodging. The defense ministry might be a little extra upset at the author’s public comments on the state of Singapore. This story was first reported by The New York Times.