Wrong to support work of person who broke the law

I refer to the Singapore Film Commission's (SFC) explanation on its support for Crazy Rich Asians, a movie based on the book of the same name by Singapore-born writer Kevin Kwan (Film commission explains support for Crazy Rich Asians; Aug 25).

SFC said it supported the movie "in accordance with its mandate to grow our local media ecosystem and provide development opportunities for our media professionals".

When asked about the issue of Mr Kwan's status as a wanted man for defaulting on his national service (NS) obligations, it chose to seal its lips.

Instead, SFC skirted the issue by noting the jobs the movie had created for 12 cast members and 297 production crew members.

However, to the Ministry of Defence's credit, it admitted that Mr Kwan had failed to register for NS in 1990.

Reading between the lines, my educated guess is that SFC knew that Mr Kwan was a defaulter, but chose to base its decision on economic returns instead.

It is ethically wrong to support a product from someone who has broken the law, whatever the economic spillover may be.

It could also convey wrong moral values to the younger generation.

Let's suppose footballer Ben Davis refuses to return to fulfil his NS obligations, and later becomes a world-class player in the same league as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

If he decides to establish a football academy here that would create 500 jobs and, more importantly, prepare Singaporean youth for the 2030 World Cup, will the Ministry of Education, Sport Singapore and the Football Association of Singapore support his entrepreneurial attempts?

For the purpose of transparency, SFC should declare if it knew about Mr Kwan's NS status beforehand.

Michael Lum

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2018, with the headline 'Wrong to support work of person who broke the law'. Subscribe