This short history opens with an apology to current JFCC members for the inclusion of some photographs from my own files that necessarily include me and my colleagues of the era, and a further apology for the absence of precise dates of some events that in time and with more digging through old files, I will rectify. – Frank Palmos, Scarborough, Australia.




Dutch publishers and senior journalists formed a media Social Club which met in rooms in Harmoni, central Batavia, after 1920. There were numerous successful general and business newspapers in the colony, two finance and trade publications in Surabaya alone (then the biggest city in the colony) as well as two news agencies feeding news to Holland. The club was located in Harmoni, Batavia, the capital, to the west of the Dutch Governor-General’s Palace which is today the Istana Merdeka.


A former member of the club and my sole informant from the 1960-64 era was a jovial bar owner who insisted on being called just “Mister Onree” (Henri). He was a former Dutch KNIL soldier born in the Indies who decided to take Indonesian citizenship in 1950 just weeks after the Republic won sovereignty at the end of 1949. He opened the “Bamboo Bar and Restaurant” in Jalan Cikini, which by 1961 when I first visited, had become the only regular meeting place for visiting foreign journalists and nostalgic Dutch citizens, but could not be used as a correspondents’ club. Henri said the prewar pre-WW2 Dutch journalists were thoroughly professional, not government employees. The only journalists club he could recall was a Press Club in the Harmoni buildings, formed with the main purpose of socializing. The club was in the same building as the famous Harmoni Dance Hall, where Batavia’s social elite met for frequent events, with many of the coffee and tea plantation owners coming from afar to stay overnight at the the luxurious Hotel Des Indes, Des Galleries or The Netherlander, all close by. Within 72 hours of the Japanese Imperial Army’s triumphal march into Batavia in April 1942, the music in Harmony Hall stopped and the former journalists club was declared ‘military property.’ (1)


(1) Batavia also got a name change, from Batavia to Djakarta, in April 1942, although the outside world was unaware of the name change until many years later. The name change was welcomed by Indonesian nationalists, but not welcome were the next Japanese acts of seizing control of all print and radio media and the issuance of new “policy guidelines” which removed any freedoms of expression from local journalists. Nor was the next act of stripping of hundreds of kilometres of intricate iron fencing along the canals, balconies, industrial gates all shipped back to Japan to be melted down for military use. The name shift from Djakarta to Jakarta took place in 1972, with the introduction of the new spelling. Thus the club was named the Djakarta Foreign Correspondents Club (DFCC) from mid-1965 to 1972, and the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club (JFCC) from 1973, the current name known more simply as the JFCC.


Former JFCC Presidents

2016: Neil Chatterjee (Bloomberg News)
2015: Joseph Cochrane (International New York Times)
2014: Joseph Cochrane (International New York Times)
2013: Joseph Cochrane (International New York Times)
2011: Jason Tedjasukmana (Time Magazine)
2010: Jason Tedjasukmana
2009: Jason Tedjasukmana
2008: Jason Tedjasukmana
2007: John Aglionby (Financial Times)
2006: John Aglionby
2005: Shoeb Kagda (Business Times)
2004: Shoeb Kagda
2003: Atika Shubert (CNN)
2002: Atika Shubert/ Don Greenlees (The Australian)
2001: Don Greenlees
2000: Grainne McCarthy (Dow Jones Newswires)
1999: Karen Polgaze (Australian Associated Press)
1998: Maria Ressa (CNN)
1997: Manuela Saragosa (BBC)
1996: Bernard Estrade (Agence France-Presse)
1995: John Owen-Davies (Reuters)
1994: John McBeth (Far Eastern Economic Review)
1993: Paul Jacob (The Straits Times)
1992: Keith Loveard (Asiaweek)
1991: Adam Schwartz (Far Eastern Economic Review)
1990: Jonathan Thatcher (Reuters)
1989: Michael Vatikiotis (Far Eastern Economic Review)
1988: Alain Boebion (Agence France-Presse)
1987: Jeremy Cliff (Reuters)


From 1980 to 1987, the succession of JFCC presidents is hazy as it was much less active than it is today. Still, if anyone would like to help us fill in the gaps for posterity’s sake, please get in touch.