This BE was called when the seat of Anson was vacated after PAP MP C. V. Devan Nair was chosen as the next President of Singapore. SDP leader Chiam See Tong withdrew his party's candidate at the last minute outside the nomination centre to make way for WP leader J. B. Jeyaretnam to avoid a three-cornered clash. This election marked the end of PAP's 15-year monopoly since the boycott of Parliament by BS in 1966 and it was also WP's return to the House since 1961 in the same seat 20 years after David Marshall first clinched it.

Nomination day: 21 October 1981
Polling day: 31 October 1981

Total voters: 14,512
Total voter turnout: 13,746 (94.7%)

Election deposit: $1,500

Total seats = 1