Lawmakers debate limits on people changing their names

  • By Helen Davidson and Chi Hui Lin/The Guardian

Lawmakers debated changing legal limits on name changes on Thursday, after some of the hundreds of people who legally changed their name to “Salmon” in exchange for free sushi reportedly got stuck with it.

In March last year, restaurant chain Sushiro ran a promotion offering free all-you-can-eat sushi for an entire table to anyone with the Chinese characters for salmon, gui yu (鮭魚), in their name. In what was later dubbed the ‘Salmon Chaos’, 331 people took part, paying a nominal administration fee to legally call themselves names such as ‘Salmon Dream’ and ‘Dancing Salmon’.

At the time, the government criticized the promotion, asking people to be “rational” and saying the stunt created unnecessary extra work for the paperwork-laden bureaucracy.

Photo courtesy of a reader

Some participants built social media followings through international media attention, while others ran small businesses by taking friends out to eat for a fee.

After the two-day promotion ended, most returned to their normal names, but more than a year on some encountered a roadblock – the government only allows people to change their names three times.

Lawmakers have been debating proposed amendments to the Names Ordinance to help those stuck as salmon or to prevent further “salmon chaos”.

“After the salmon chaos incident, some people had already changed their names three times and have no way to change them again,” said New Ruling Party lawmaker Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), suggesting further action, including fee changes and reflection. periods.

Some lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have called for this to be made more difficult.

“Our faith in civic rationality is too low,” DPP lawmaker Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said, objecting to increased restrictions as an intrusion into people’s daily lives.

On social media, people criticized the debate, saying adults should be more responsible and that it was a waste of the legislature’s time.

“How can we change the law for those who sell their personality for advantages?” said one commenter.

“Be responsible for your own life, Salmons!” said another.

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