PAP Member of Parliament C. V. Devan Nair was nominated as the third President of Singapore on 23 October 1981, vacating his Anson seat for a by-election - for the third time in the constituency's history. WP leader J. B. Jeyaretnam and a SDP candidate accompanied by party leader Chiam See Tong both turned up at the nomination centre but the latter pulled out after discussions to make way for the former and avert a three-cornered clash. However, UPF leader Harbans Singh entered the fray. Jeyaretnam's victory marked the end of PAP's 15-year monopoly since BS boycott of Parliament in 1966 and WP's return to the legislature after 20 years since 1961, in the same seat that the then-WP chairman David Marshall clinched.

Writ of election: 14 October 1981 [Wed]
Nomination day: 21 October 1981 [Wed]
Polling day: 31 October 1981 [Sat]
Member swearing-in: 22 December 1981 [Tue]

Eligible voters: 14,512
Voter turnout: 13,746 (94.7%)

Election deposit: $1,500

Total seats = 1