KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (March 31, 2011)—P.O. Thomas, one of the founders of the International Natural Rubber Organization, died March 28 after a brief illness. He was 81.
Thomas served as director of statistics for the international price and supply control organization before retiring in the late 1980s. Previously, he worked with Malaysia's Rubber Research Institute, where he eventually became head of the Economics and Statistics Department.
Thomas arrived in what was then called Malaya from Kerala, India, when he was 17 following World War II, and joined the United Oriental Assurance Co. as a clerk. He attended night classes at the Victoria Institution to earn his school certificate. He later earned a degree in economics from the University of Wyoming, and a master's in statistics from Texas A&M University.
At the age of 50, Thomas earned a doctorate in statistics from the University of Ghent in Belgium.
He is survived by his wife, Mary, and son, Daniel.