Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was sworn in Monday for what he said would be the last time, ushering in a new political era in the island republic he has ruled for three decades.

Lee, voted into an eighth term in last September's general election, took the oath of allegiance followed by his Cabinet officers, ministers of state and 82 members of Parliament.Missing was Francis Seow, a fiery opposition leader denied a seat in the legislative body after a Singapore District Court judge convicted him of tax evasion. Neither the ailing Seow nor his attorney were present at the trial.

Critics charged the denial of a seat to Seow marred the pomp surrounding the colorful launching of the seventh five-year parliamentary session during which 2.6 million Singaporeans will see the first change of prime ministers.