《TAIPEI TIMES》 Lawmakers debate limits on people changing names


A person on March 17 last year in Taichung holds up an ID card that lists their names as “Salmon Rice,” changed to take advantage of a promotion by a sushi restaurant chain.
Photo courtesy of a reader

2022/05/28 03:00

By Helen Davidson and Chi Hui Lin / The Guardian

Legislators on Thursday debated changing legal limits on name changes, after some of the hundreds of people who legally altered their name to “Salmon” in return for free sushi reportedly became stuck with it.

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

At the time the government was critical of the promotion, asking people to be “rational” and saying the stunt created pointless extra work for the paperwork-heavy bureaucracy.

Some participants built social media followings off the international media attention, while others ran small businesses taking friends to the restaurant for a fee.

Once the two-day promotion ended, most returned to their normal names, but more than one year on some have hit a roadblock — the government only allows people to change their names three times.

Legislators debated proposed amendments to the names ordinance to help those stuck as Salmons, or to prevent another “salmon chaos.”

“After the salmon chaos incident some people had already changed their name three times and now have no way to change them back,” New Power Party Legislator Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said, suggesting other measures including fee changes and cooling-off periods.

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

“Our trust in civic rationality is too low,” DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), opposing an increase to restrictions as an intrusion into people’s daily lives.

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

“How can we amend the law for those who sell their personality for the sake of benefits?” one commenter said.

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


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