Nearly half of the population would leave should conditions deteriorate after June 30, the survey showed. While only a small proportion hold foreign passports, people believed relatives living abroad would help them escape. Political instability, loss of freedom and a downturn in economic prospects are the factors which would spark their flight. 'Obviously, Hong Kong people are preparing for a worst-case scenario and will be willing to ask their relatives for help,' said study investigator Dr Sonny Lo Shiu-hing. 'I don't think the Tung Chee-hwa administration should under-estimate this.' The poll showed 45 per cent would leave or seek means to leave if they found the post-1997 changes unsuitable. Eight per cent had a foreign passport and three per cent were applying. Researchers suggested another two people from the same household could emigrate with the foreign passport-holder, meaning up to 25 per cent of residents had a family member close enough to provide 'immediate and legitimate exit'. The survey showed a large majority expected help from overseas relatives in the event of political instability. About 53 per cent have relatives living overseas with the right of abode and 78 per cent of those said their relations would be willing to help (42 per cent very willing and 36 per cent somewhat willing).