Silence vs endorsement – the case of Alex Graham
Full disclosure: Alex Graham is a widely respected senior public relations practitioner in Guyana. He is also a highly acclaimed retired veteran broadcaster. I have enjoyed an excellent professional relationship with Mr. Graham, and as his junior I have sought his advice and counsel on numerous occasions. He has always willingly provided. I am aware that there are several persons who do not hold Mr. Graham in particularly high esteem based on their experiences of working with him. I do not share those experiences as my interactions with him have always been met with politeness, respect and willingness on his part. I do not, however, believe in the concept of sacred cows. With regard to the public good, no one can be elevated to a position of being beyond question or interrogation. It appears as though, since Mr. Graham enjoys the respect and friendship of persons in influential media circles, no one is prepared to make the obvious observations or ask pertinent questions with regard to his most recent PR engagement. No one is prepared to bell the cat. Until now.
There has been a considerable amount of discourse relating to the Anil Nandlall recorded telephone conversation scandal. Much of the recent conversation has been directed towards those prominent and other persons in society, civil, religious and otherwise who have remained silent in light of the explosive revelations on the widely circulated recording.
It is one thing to be silent on a matter. It is an entirely different thing to be actively involved in outright defense and whitewashing of gross, uncontested alleged wrongdoing and illegality.
Mr. Graham is the principal of Tagman Media Inc, among other things the company is one of the leading providers of public relations services in Guyana.
From all appearances either Mr. Graham directly, or his company, has been co-opted to provide public relations services to the embattled and disgraced Attorney General Mr. Anil Nandlall.
Mr. Graham has used his personal facebook account to promote positive and redemptive news about Nandlall. He has sent official correspondence to the local media on behalf of Nandlall and has not denied being actively engaged in seeking to repair Nandlall’s sunken public image.
Beyond his professional life in public relations, Mr. Graham is a prominent pastor at Living Stones church in Georgetown. He has carved for himself, a public profile in the national and social media as influential in this regard. He has hosted national conferences targeting various social ills. He clearly enjoys a conspicuous role in the Christian community and rubs shoulders with the power brokers in the fraternity.
Recently he posted a photograph of himself posing alongside PPP Parliamentarian Rev. Kwame Gilbert and another prominent Christian leader, Pastor Marlon Hestick. Not so long ago he posted another photo of himself meeting internationally renowned Christian leader Miles Munroe.
Additionally Mr. Graham proudly lists himself on his Linked In profile as the Chairman of the Guyana Prison Fellowship (GPF). The mission of the GPF reads, in part, “(e)ngaging the Christian community to pursue justice…”.
The GPF’s vision is “a reconciling community of restoration for all involved in or affected by crime, thereby proclaiming and demonstrating the redemptive love and transforming power of Jesus Christ for all people.”
In the recording, Nandlall has admitted to uttering the following:
“De man wan f**k de girl man, the man tell me seriously he wan knock de girl. …de man say he wan knock de ting, you can arrange?”
“…I told Adam… people got weapons right, …and when you continue [to] attack people like that and they have no way of responding they gun just walk with their weapon into that same f**king Saffon Street office and wha come sah do and innocent, Peter gun gah pay fuh f**king Paul in deh one day.”
“…de people dat yuh involving is people wid money. You know who is Kamal Mangal, the man look stupid, one bald head f**king poor man, you know who da man is ? …find out wha da man own and what he could do with one phone call, alyuh nah know who alyuh a deal with, I had to hold back that man.”
Is using one’s expertise in painting a veneer of goodness over a man who so bold-facedly degrades and commodofies women and threatens murder and mayhem on the media, part of the programme of “engaging the Christian community to pursue justice”?
Further, since Mr. Graham’s involvement with the AG we have seen public servants at the AG Chambers being used as cheap props in a photo op in what was nothing more than a shameless attempt to right the AG’s tattered image. Mr. Graham aggressively promoted this episode both on social media and to the local media.
We have also seen, subsequent to Mr. Graham’s involvement, photo ops with Nandlall and school children and parents as part of the Ministry of Education’s grant programme. Again these appear to be using innocent persons solely in an attempt to salvage Nandlall’s political career. And the question whether all of these initiatives are part of Graham’s advice on PR strategy is pertinent. Also pertinent is the Christian community’s views on one of their own being actively engaged in providing services to Nandlall after the bombshell exposures of the recording.
The most obvious question is unavoidable: Are men of God are so eager to trade their God given skill and expertise, not to mention their dignity and principles for a few shillings more? And if this is proven to be so what is the nation to then think of them? And indeed what is the nation to think of the church and religion as a whole?