DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng cautioned that "everyone will be losers" if the opposition tries to engage Perikatan Nasional purely on racial and religious grounds.
"The racist and religious extremists in PN want to engage us solely on racial or religious grounds.
"Fighting solely from an ethnic perspective will divide us as a people and a country and let us fall into the trap of racists and religious extremists, making every one of us losers," he said in a speech delivered at the Johor DAP convention in Batu Pahat today.
The speech was delivered by DAP deputy chairperson Gobind Singh Deo as Lim was unable to attend the convention because he is under Covid-19 quarantine.
In the speech, Lim said his party must instead engage PN based on principles.
"The rights of Malaysians, including minorities, are best protected and promoted when we work together under the protective shield of the Federal Constitution.
"Protecting our fundamental rights should not be from an ethnic perspective but from the 5 principles of upholding the Federal Constitution, democracy, basic human rights, socio-economic justice and rule of law.
"The racists and religious extremists do not want to engage us on these five principles because they know they will lose," he said.
The message is part of Lim's narrative at every state DAP convention where he had emphasised that the party won't pander to chauvinism.
This was amid criticism by a faction in DAP against the current leadership for allegedly diluting the party's "Chinese-ness" to win Malay support.
The claim was made by DAP's Sungai Pelek assemblyperson Ronnie Liu who also complained that the party had allowed "elites" to fill important positions and sidelined long-time grassroots members.
"I want to reiterate that DAP is for all Malaysians and will not be a chauvinistic Malay, Chinese or Indian Party.
"DAP will always be Malaysian first, unlike Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who infamously declared that he is Malay first, Malaysian second.
"DAP will never give up on our ideals of nation-building established on the bedrock of racial fraternity, religious harmony, equal opportunity, socio-economic justice, parliamentary democracy, and general economic prosperity for all," he said.
Lim also urged Johor DAP, which will elect its new leadership today, to close ranks.
"Such unity must begin by DAP members here in Johor. There is no point in winning party elections only to lose the general elections.
"Let us prove our political enemies wrong that our leadership and membership are divided. Let us demonstrate that all of us stand united together with the Johor party leadership to repeat our successes in the last general election," he said.
Incumbent Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong is facing a revolt among some grassroots members.
DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has staked his credibility by endorsing Liew, to the chagrin of faction opposed to him.
Liew has been a long-time target for the Chinese-educated faction for suggesting that the DAP must increase its Malay membership.
Some Johor DAP grassroots have also taken issue with his leadership style.
Liew's fate will be closely watched as his survival could also have a bearing on the central leadership, which has thrown its weight behind him.