Han Li Ying, Kirsten.
Li Ying Kirsten, Han.
Kirsten Li Ying Han.
It’s all the same. It really shouldn’t matter. But it always does.
Singaporean passports don’t split names into the “first name, middle name, last name” configuration. Being a multicultural country where names come in all forms and structures, it probably makes sense to just put everything in one line. It’s the most practical thing to do. And it’s really not that hard.
Thanks to that, overseas administration becomes a nightmare. Booking flights. Enrolling in school. Getting a driver’s license. Opening a bank account. The list goes on.
“So… is Li Ying your middle name?”
“You could say that.”
“But is it?”
“Then what sort of name is it?”
“My Chinese name.”
“So… is your Chinese name your first name?”
Variations of the above conversation happen every time. I’m sure I’m not the only one. And hey, at least I have a surname. It must be an even bigger headache for those who have patronyms instead of last names.
It took me two days to get my bank account open, because the first bank letter I’d received from the university had my name as Kirsten Li Ying Han when it should have been Han Li Ying Kirsten. Everyone could see that it was me and that there wasn’t any identity fraud going on, but I had to be sent back to get a new letter only to have my bank account name changed to Kirsten Li Ying Han anyway, since I wanted to use Kirsten as my first name.
Why must it be so complicated?! Why can’t they just accept that not everyone has a name that fits into the general Western construct?
Because a computer form says so, that’s why.