'No heaven for orphans': Upin & Ipin character apologises after backlash over insensitive remarks

Fizi asks for forgiveness from Upin & Ipin for his careless remarks.
PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube/Les' Copaque Production

A character from Upin & Ipin has apologised after a controversial scene in a recent episode made him a trending topic on Malaysian and Indonesian social media.

In the episode, which aired on the first day of Hari Raya (May 24) on MNCTV in Indonesia, Fizi, a supporting character in the popular Malaysian animated series was having a conversation with the titular twins about visiting the graves of their late parents.

When another character Mail mentioned the saying "heaven is beneath a mother's feet", Upin curiously enquired what would happen to those without mothers.

Fizi then blurted out there was "no heaven for orphans", causing the twins to burst into tears and sob inconsolably.

PHOTO: Screengrab via YouTube / Upin & Ipin Channel 
PHOTO: Screengrab via YouTube / Upin & Ipin Channel 
PHOTO: Screengrab via YouTube / Upin & Ipin Channel 

Fizi's thoughtless response not only shocked his friends in the show but also angered viewers.

A social media storm ensued as the scene went viral, with Indonesian viewers demanding an apology from the character Fizi, Harian Metro reported.

Offended fans declared that Fizi was "cancelled" and admonished the character with a flurry of furious tweets.

Fizi also quickly became a trending topic over on Malaysian Twitter, sparking more than 200,000 tweets.

In Islam, "jahanam" refers to a place in the afterlife where evildoers are punished.
PHOTO: Screengrab/Twitter
"Please Les Copaque, make one episode where Fizi burns in hell."
PHOTO: Screengrab/Twitter

Following the backlash, the offending scene was posted on Upin & Ipin's official Instagram page on May 26, along with the caption: "Please forgive Fizi."

Episode was meant to provoke thought

Nur Naquyah Burhanuddin, the creative content director of Les' Copaque Production, the production company behind the show, told Harian Metro that the response proved that Indonesian viewers love and care deeply about Upin and Ipin.

"That is the reason why so many were emotional when Fizi said there was no heaven for orphans like them," Nur Naquyah said.

Defending the scene, she explained that it was consciously written to raise a question that "still lingers in society".

 "Where is heaven for orphans? 

"During the discussion, the idea came up to trigger thoughts about the topic.

"Our intention is to give the audience a chance to think about the issue," she added.

To reassure orphans who may have been hurt by Fizi's remarks, the production company posted a statement on Instagram that "heaven is for everyone who does good''.

PHOTO: Screengrab via Instagram/ upinipinofficial

The Instagram post said: "Heaven is for all orphans. Although people say heaven is under the soles of their mother's feet, it does not mean that orphans do not belong in heaven.

"Heaven is for everyone as long as we always do good, improve our habits and pray to Him. It is best that we always pray for our parents even when they are gone because the prayers of an orphan are amongst the prayers that Allah will surely grant."

A humble apology from Fizi

Fizi's video apology was uploaded by Les' Copaque Production to their official YouTube channel yesterday (June 2).

The four-minute clip included the controversial scene from the episode.

Fizi's tearful apology went like this:

"I, Fizi, stand here to apologise to Upin and Ipin... Fizi unintentionally said the wrong things that day, so please do not be angry at Fizi. Fizi is sad!"

The YouTube video has been viewed over four million times at the time of writing. The video clip was also broadcast on all Upin & Ipin social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (with over 100,000 retweets and 165,000 likes).

The director of the episode Khairul Aimran Ibrahim told reporters that the apology video took two days to be completed and added that he hopes viewers can forgive Fizi in the spirit of the month of Syawal.

melinamoey@asiaone.com