President Suharto's unprecedented but vague attempt at the weekend to ease mounting protests is 'far too little, too late to save him', students and diplomats warned yesterday. 'He was trying to claim that he hears us,' one clearly disgusted Jakarta student said. 'But I really don't think he knows how to listen any more. Unless he starts sweeping, urgent political reforms, nothing is going to stop us.' Mr Suharto left for the G15 meeting in Cairo after saying he understood the 'people's suffering', having growing up in a poor family, and insisting he was working to a clear timetable of reform. 'We need peace and comfort,' he said. 'I trust that the people will put the interest of the country and nation ahead of their individual interests.' But he also warned that demands for reform must not be allowed to 'destroy everything we have achieved through development'. He made clear, too, that the vast network of security forces would not tolerate threats to national stability. President Suharto is not only one of the world's longest serving leaders but one of the most publicly aloof. His highly unusual televised comments before his departure only served to underline the threat to his 32-year rule posed by last week's violence. The trip is Mr Suharto's first outside the country in six months and foreign diplomats have warned that it would seem to to be the worst possible time to be away. 'He always seemed to be so astute,' one veteran Asian diplomat said. 'Those comments have only rubbed salt in the wounds. Many of us fear Suharto is finally losing his grip. 'Increasingly there looks to be no obvious way out for him or his family,' he said. Security forces are clearly jittery and doubts are starting to emerge about their cohesion. Protests, meanwhile, are widening and now involve not just traditionally volatile students, but also ordinary people such as taxi drivers, nurses and even civil servants. No longer merely objecting to recent International Monetary Fund-induced price increases or ethnic Chinese business domination, politically-literate protesters are making clear demands for change at the very top, specifically through a Cabinet reshuffle and an emergency session of the People's Consultative Assembly. That body, largely filled with pro-Suharto family acolytes, elected the 76-year-old leader to his seventh five-year term in March. Mr Suharto's ultra-loyal Vice-President, Bacharuddin Habibie, moved swiftly at the weekend to scotch talk of a special assembly session.