His bestseller may have propelled Singapore into the limelight of Hollywood, but the authorities will detain author Kevin Kwan should he ever return here.
The Singapore-born writer, whose 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians inspired a movie with the same title, is on a wanted list for defaulting on his national service (NS) obligations.
The 44-year-old left Singapore at age 11 and emigrated to the US and is now an American citizen.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said he had failed to register for NS in 1990 despite notices 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," the Mindef spokesman said in a media statement.
"In 1994, his application and subsequent appeal to renounce his Singapore citizenship without serving NS were rejected."
The New Paper understands that he was then put on a wanted list, which would result in him being detained should he return.
Under the Enlistment Act, he could be fined up to $10,000 and jailed up to three years if convicted.
However, in an interview with ST last year, the writer claimed he has returned to Singapore on occasion.
He reportedly said his favourite hawker joint was Newton Food Centre, which was featured in Crazy Rich Asians, and that when he does come back, he goes in search of good wanton mee.
TNP understands that the authorities are not aware of him having returned at any time, but that it is possible he did so under a different name on a foreign passport.
Crazy Rich Asians, now showing in cinemas here, has taken the box office by storm.
The romantic comedy about Singapore's secret moneyed elite was No. 1 at the US box office over the weekend, making over US$35 million (S$47.9 million).
Its red carpet premiere on Tuesday at Capitol Theatre was a glittery affair, with many of the actors, including leading man Henry Golding, director Jon M. Chu and producer John Penotti attending.
Kwan was conspicuously absent.
Crazy Rich Asians was supported in part by the Info-communications Media Development Authority via the Singapore Film Commission under the production assistance grant and was assisted by several other government organisations.
This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.