In the past, it was used to tell society one's social strata or place in life. Today, everyone uses a songkok. It has become a symbol of being a Malay or a Bruneian.
In fact it is considered "sunnat" (a voluntary good deed) for Muslim males to put on a headcover as long as it is done appropriately.
According to experts, the songkok became a familiar sight in the Malay archipelago around the 13th century when Islam began to take roots in the region.
The songkok could have originated from the fez of the Ottoman Turks.
After a period of time the wearing of songkok became a tradition and synonymous with being a Malay. It became the symbol of a Malay. Over time it replaced the dastar as part of the Malay's national dress on most formal occasions.
Many officials adorn the songkok as the national headgear when officiating any function where protocol is being observed. The Brunei Times