INDONESIA marked the 51st anniversary of independence quietly yesterday as the nation pondered emerging political problems and the leadership of President Suharto. Analysts are split over whether Mr Suharto's increasing role in day-to-day affairs, particularly his open criticism of an obscure activist group he says is communist, is a calculated response to events or shows a loss of political touch. A solemn Mr Suharto presided over a one-hour ceremony at the colonial Merdeka Palace in Jakarta attended by 2,000 dignitaries, foreign diplomats and students. Parliamentary Speaker Wahono read Indonesia's Declaration of Independence from Dutch colonial rule - made by first president Sukarno on August 17, 1945 - and children raised the red and white national flag. In the audience was Sukarno's daughter, the ousted leader of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party Megawati Sukarnoputri, and her family. Mr Suharto did not speak to Ms Megawati. The pair have been at odds since Ms Megawati refused to recognise a decision by a government-backed rebel party congress in June to oust her as party chairman. Mr Suharto has blamed unrest that followed the violent eviction of Ms Megawati's supporters from the party headquarters on July 27 on an activist group, the People's Democratic Party (PRD). Ignoring public cynicism, the 75-year-old President has continued to accuse the PRD of being communist in all but name. On Friday he repeated earlier warnings of the danger of communism. 'This is Political Science 101 [for beginners]. Internal problems are only caused by external bad people,' said one Western analyst. He said most people no longer believed the communist party, wiped out in massacres in 1965, was still a threat. 'I think he and maybe he alone still believes it's a threat,' the analyst said. 'He's too distant and he's losing his judgment.' An Indonesian observer said: 'I think a lot of people are still asking how a man of 27 years of age [PRD leader Budiman Sudjatmiko] could have organised a big riot like what happened on July 27. 'I think it's hard for the President to get a sense of what the people are thinking.' But historian Ong Hak Ham said the tough political speech on Friday was not unexpected. 'For the last two or three weeks, he has been making statements on politics. Even speeches of presidents are moulded by events,' Mr Ong said. He said the President's stronger stand was not surprising because Indonesia's political scene was heating up. Dissent was on the rise as people anticipated the end of the Suharto era. 'It's getting more and more serious because of the age factor,' he said, referring to concern about Mr Suharto's advancing years. Meanwhile, Religious Affairs Minister Tarmidzi Taher was yesterday quoted by the official news agency Antara as charging an unnamed neighbouring 'liberal state' with training the PRD in sabotage and terrorism.